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Whiskey
From Irish whiskey to Kentucky bourbon, there are as many styles of whiskey as there are regions that produce it.
Bourbon Ice melts in a glass of Bourbon.
Whiskey is made by distilling a fermented mash of grain, most commonly corn, rye, wheat or barley. Yeast is added in one of two ways: A sweet-mash uses fresh and unused yeast, while a sour-mash uses a “starter,” a culture obtained from a previous distillation. The whiskey is then aged in charred oak barrels to give it flavor and color. Depending on the grain with which a whiskey is made and the barrel in which it is aged, tasting notes will often include references to nuts, fruits, spices, vanillin and oak.

A corn-based whiskey will be sweeter than a rye-based whiskey, while wheat produces a softer style. A straight whiskey is one that is made from at least 51% of a single grain and aged for a minimum of two years in new, charred oak barrels. Whiskey can be served neat or on the rocks.

American Whiskey
Blended
Blended whiskey is made by mixing at least 20% straight whiskey with grain-neutral spirits.

Bourbon
Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon, and bourbon can be made only in the United States. At least 51% of the grain must be corn (but not more than 79%), which makes bourbon sweeter than rye-based whiskey. A master distiller may create a single-barrel bourbon from a single superior barrel, or a small-batch bourbon by blending a few of the best barrels.

Corn
At least 80% of the grain must be corn. It is usually not aged, but if labeled as straight corn whiskey it must remain in used or uncharred new oak for two or more years.

Rye
At least 51% of the grain must be rye.

Tennessee Whiskey
Similar to bourbon, except that the whiskey goes through a charcoal filtration after distillation.

Canadian Whisky
Made in Canada from only cereal grains (corn, rye, wheat and barley), these whiskeys are blended and usually aged for at least six years.

Irish Whiskey
Irish whiskey is made from a mash of barley (malted and unmalted), corn and rye. It is distilled three times and typically aged at least seven years. It tastes somewhat similar to scotch but is more delicate and lacks the iodine character of the peat.

Scotch Whisky
Scotch is made with malted barley, meaning that the grain has sprouted, creating a chemical change that allows it to ferment. The sprouted barley, known as “green malt,” is then roasted in kilns fueled by peat, which gives scotch its distinctive flavor, often described as having notes of peat, heather, malt, smoke and iodine. Regional names in Scotland often appear on the label, including Lowland, Speyside, Highland and Islay.

Single Malt
The product of a single distiller and a single type of malted grain.

Vatted Malt
A blend of single malts from multiple distilleries with different ages.

Blended
A blend of malt and grain whiskeys from multiple distilleries.