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What’s the difference between whisky and Scotch?

26th Apr 2024
What’s the difference between whisky and Scotch?

There is none! Scotch is a term typically used in North America to refer to whisky made in Scotland. But in Scotland, we just call it whisky! 

How much do you know about Scotland’s National Drink? Brush up on your facts just in time for Whisky Month this May—then join us for a Whisky Tour & Tasting


Water of Life 

The Gaelic term for whisky is uisge beatha, pronounced like ‘oosh-ka bey-ha'. It means the water of life.  

Over time, uisge was adopted into English and evolved into ‘whisky’. In Scotland, we spell this without the ‘e’. In Ireland and the United States, it’s normally spelt ‘whiskey’. 


Underground Operations 

Because taxation was so high on whisky, many distillers ran underground operations—literally. 

The Blair Street Underground Vaults were home to one of these operations. Run by Highlanders, it operated for around 18 months. Likely, others existed as well. 


Cask Flavour 

Most whisky is aged in bourbon casks, but different casks can offer different flavours.  

Bourbon casks add tastes like vanilla, honey, caramel and fruit. Sherry casks provide flavours of cardamon, cinnamon, figs and dates. 


Medieval Origins 

The distillation of spirits comes from the 9th-century Islamicate world, where it was made for medicinal or cosmetic purposes. It migrated west during the crusades. 

It was made by monasteries until their dissolution during the Protestant Reformation. After that, farmers began distilling the spirit from the barley they produced. 


Whisky Regions 

There are six whisky producing regions in Scotland: Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown, and the Islands.  

Different regions often have different tastes. For example, Campbeltown might be peaty, sweet and smoky while Lowlands are lighter and more floral. 

Four bottles of Scotch whisky sit on a table: Bowmore, Benromach, Aberfeldy, and Loch Lomond.

Raise a glass to Scotland’s National Drink this May and celebrate Whisky Month. Join us for a Whisky Tour & Tasting to learn more about its origins, complete with a tasting masterclass! 

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