Like Bourbon can only be produced in the United States, Scotch can only be produced in Scotland. There are similarities in the production of both bourbon and scotch, such as using cereal grains, water and yeast; using a still, whether pot or column; aging in barrels; blending; having a minimum ABV of 40%; and potentially finishing the whiskey in the barrel of another type of whiskey, wine, or other spirit. There are also multiple categories of both bourbon and scotch. I went over many of the categories of bourbon in my post National Bourbon Day! Below is an excellent visual of the types of scotches.
There are some differences, of course. The spelling, for starters. Here in the U.S., we spell it whiskey, while in Scotland it is spelled whisky. Scotch also must be aged for a minimum of 3 years, while in the U.S., we don’t have a minimum age required to be bourbon, unless it’s labeled straight bourbon, which then requires 2 years of maturation.
The TTB is currently looking at changing some of the rules of bourbon including whether or not bourbon finished in barrels of other spirits, such as sherry or port, can still be called bourbon. Meanwhile, the rules of Scotch have recently changed to expand the types of barrels in which the whisky can be matured or finished. The rules still require the barrels come from spirits that traditionally use barrels for aging, but the change now allows barrels used to age tequila, mezcal, and other spirits, and beer/spirits made with fruit or that had fruit added after fermentation. According to Allan Park of the Scotch Whisky Association, “all casks used must still result in a spirit which has the taste, aroma and colour generally found in Scotch whisky” (“Scotch Whisky’s New Rules Explained.” Richard Woodard, scotchwhisky.com, June 19, 2019, https://scotchwhisky.com/magazine/in-depth/26159/scotch-whisky-s-new-rules-explained/). The new rules open up the world of scotch whisky to more experimentation and potential market growth. I, for one, can’t wait to see what new expressions come from this change.
As always, drink responsibly!