What are the Differences Between Scotch, Irish Whiskey, and Bourbon?

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Whiskey is a drink whose differences can be notoriously difficult to understand if you aren’t a regular drinker of the stuff. This popular alcoholic drink has three main types: Scotch whiskey, Irish whiskey, and bourbon, which is the American version of the stuff.

Here is your guide to understanding the differences between them.


Scotch whiskey is considered to be the heaviest and “strongest” whiskey, in general. It is distilled twice and made using malted barley which has been smoked with peat, giving it its characteristic aroma and flavor. It’s usually blended to obtain different flavors from different batches.

Irish Whiskey

Of the two whiskeys originating from the British Isles, Irish whiskey is definitely the smoother and lighter version. It is distilled three times and made using a mix of malted and raw barley, giving it a sweeter and more delicate flavor. It typically isn’t blended after being left in its copper vat.


Bourbon, the American version of the beverage, is markedly different. It is primarily made using corn, which produces the sweetest and lightest flavor of whiskey available between these three choices. The smoky flavor which makes bourbon unique is obtained from aging in charred oak barrels.