In the last few decades, there has been a worldwide whisky renaissance. The popularity of whiskies, Scotch and bourbon in particular, has reached an all-time high. “We’re seeing an increasing spread of appreciation for whisky particularly within younger audiences,” says Lucy Whitehall, Global Brand Ambassador for The Famous Grouse. “It’s really refreshing to hear and see that whisky is being enjoyed in more ways than ever.” If you aren’t yet on the whiskey bandwagon, now is your chance. Here’s a primer so that you can get to know all the different types of whiskey out there.
Taste: Full-bodied, smooth and sweet.
Notes: Corn, caramel and vanilla.
Unique to Bourbon: Mash must be at least 51% corn.
Interesting Fact: Bourbon barrels can only be used once. Aging is always done in new, charred American oak casks.
Famous Labels: Pappy Van Winkle. Blanton’s. Maker’s Mark.
Deal: Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old ($35)
Taste: Some are peaty and smoky (Islay). Others are malty, smooth and sweet.
Notes: Caramel, honey, spice and toffee. Islay whiskies have notes of iodine, salt and brine.
Unique to Scotch: The main ingredient is malted barley.
Interesting Fact: Islay whiskies get their smoky flavor from peat smoke used in the barley drying process.
Famous Labels: Lagavulin. Laphroaig. Macallan.
Deal: Bruichladdich The Laddie Scottish Barley ($55)
Taste: Sweet, rich, malty, hints of toffee and vanilla.
Notes: Toffee, vanilla, caramel, sherry and spice.
Unique to Irish Whiskey: Pot still whiskey, where whiskey is made at just one distillery from malted and unmalted barley, is unique to Ireland.
Interesting Fact: The only reason Irish whiskey has an “e” in it is to differentiate it from its Scottish counterparts.
Famous Label: Jameson. Bushmills. Tullamore D.E.W.
Deal: Tullamore D.E.W. 10 Year Old ($35)
Taste: Smooth, soft and malty with no harsh burn.
Notes: Vanilla, dried fruit, citrus, burnt toffee and others.
Unique to Canadian Whisky: Every grain is distilled separately and blended together afterwards.
Interesting Fact: Technically, all Canadian whiskey can be labeled as a rye.
Famous Labels: Canadian Club. Crown Royal. Wiser’s.
Deal: Lot 40 ($45)
Taste: Spicy and malty.
Notes: Toasted grain and black pepper.
Unique to Rye: The mash must be from at least 51% rye.
Interesting Fact: George Washington made rye whiskey at his Mount Vernon distillery.
Famous Labels: Sazerac. Redemption. Templeton.
Deal: Templeton Rye ($50)
Taste: Smooth and sweet.
Notes: Hints of cereal grains, vanilla, caramel, toasted oak and corn.
Unique to Tennessee Whiskey: The only thing that separates Tennessee Whiskey from bourbon is that it’s filtered through charcoal.
Interesting Fact: Even though they’d never admit it, Tennessee Whiskey is technically still considered bourbon.
Famous Labels: Jack Daniel’s. George Dickel. Nelson’s.
Deal: George Dickel Barrel Select ($40)
Japanese (and Taiwanese) Whisky
Taste: Similar to Scotch. Rich, malty, smooth and sweet.
Notes: Almonds, clove, oranges and toasted oak.
Unique to Japanese/Taiwanese Whisky: Both are made in the style of Scotch whisky.
Interesting Fact: Although Taiwan has a very limited history in distilling, Kavalan had a whisky named as the best in the world last year.
Famous Labels: Hibiki. Yamazaki. Kavalan.
Deal: Yamazaki 12 Year Old ($50)