View Full Version : Scotch / whisky / whiskey

wings folded
17th Jan 2013, 20:02
A question addressed generally, but perhaps more in particular at conpilot, who appears to have a more than passing interest in the topic.

Why is it that in the Old World, we refer to whisky (if Scottish) or whiskey (if Irish), whereas over there you have to use the term "Scotch"?

Is it because you have another beverage known as bourbon (apparently a whisky also, without irony) that you have to differentiate between them?

(aged ppruners will recall, like me, Mr Robinson's confusion over Benjamin's prefererence: "Bourbon still your tipple? ... "Scotch", replies the graduate, and then gets served a dose of bourbon. (By the way, The Graduate is about 43 years old , now, and does not bear the scars of time, although to find an an Alfa Spyder today in that good nick would be a stroke of good luck

17th Jan 2013, 20:08
It has puzzled me as well, however, just to muddy the 'waters' a bit more, you left out Canadian Whisky, like Crown Royal.

That's why I just specify a brand when ordering a whiskey. :p

17th Jan 2013, 20:11
Perhaps to distinguish the domestic stuff (Rye whiskey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rye_whiskey)) from the imported stuff (Scotch whisky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotch_whisky)).

wings folded
17th Jan 2013, 20:14
so, what is your prefered beverage, con?

Go on, tell us

17th Jan 2013, 20:16
As noted above, rye was the original "American Whiskey" though it took a beating during prohibition. It is making a modest comeback.

This is quite nice: Beam Global (http://www.beamglobal.com/brands/ri)

Ancient Mariner
17th Jan 2013, 20:26
Miami circa 1977, bartender; a double whisky please, Chivas.
A huge, thick (think water glass) filled with the amber liquid and plenty of ice promtly arrived. It tasted like shit.
Waiter, excuse me, what is this? As you ordered, Sir. A double whisky AND a double Chivas R. I politely explained to him what I had really ment to order and he kindly offered me a new drink at no charge. Nice place it was too.

17th Jan 2013, 20:46
Don't overlook this one

The Belgian Owl, Belgian Single Malt Whisky distilled from barley grown in Belgium (http://www.belgianwhisky.com/en/products-3.html)

It's actually very good...

17th Jan 2013, 20:56
It seems to me that the Scottish won the marketing battle. If you want whiskey you can specify Irish. But Scotch is the drink de jour in the American market with the missing e.

Perhaps being Irish, I'm biased. (I am) But Irish whiskey is smoother. Scotch has the taste of the moors. There's an element of harshness. An aspect of the Scottish character?

As for the 'whisk(e)ys of other countries, well they are Johnny (!) come latelys. The word whiskey is a corruption of the Gaelic 'Uisce beatha' Water of life. Scotch, Irish it's all the same.

But, one interesting point. Irish whiskey is usually matured in the barrels formerly used to mature Bourbon.

So perhaps Bourbon can be included after all.

17th Jan 2013, 21:08
I've had some Irish Whisky that was quite good.

17th Jan 2013, 21:22

The word whiskey is a corruption of the Gaelic 'Uisce beatha' Water of life. Scotch, Irish it's all the same.

It actually seems to be circular because francophone countries call (some )spirits "eau de vie" which is exactly the same and I believe the same is true in Scandinavia.

Lon More
17th Jan 2013, 21:49
The word whiskey is a corruption of the Gaelic 'Uisce beatha' Water of life. Scotch, Irish it's all the same.

Actually it's not. There is a subtle difference; Irish: uisce beatha and the Gaelic: uisge beatha

17th Jan 2013, 21:52
I find Irish whisky a bit too smooth. I like a bit of the taste of the moors. There are so many varieties in single malt, but which one I take depends upon mood. Some days I go for a drop of really peaty Islay, other times the somewhat less peaty Talisker still from the Isles, but Skye this time. Any Speyside whisky can be almost as smooth as the Irish, but still has more character. For all round flavour and a really long finish my vote goes to Aberlour and thats about as far north as one wishes to go..

17th Jan 2013, 22:05
American bars have what we call 'well' drinks, which are generally lower shelf, generics. So if you step up to the bar and order a 'scotch on the rocks', you'll get a MacGregor or such. At nicer bars it may be a Grants.

You learn to look at the bottles on the wall, select your scotch, and place your order, as in, 'I'll have the Glenfiddich 12, neat. Make it a double, please.'

As to the various whisk(e)ys, Scotch is from Scotland; Bourbon is from Kentucky or Tennessee and is corn liquor; Canadian is rye from Canada. Irish whisky, fine as it is, is an afterthought. There are other specialty whiskies such as Yukon Jack, or Southern Comfort. They all go well with ice cubes.

I suppose 80% of us ordering will specify a specific brand or bottle when drinking whisk(e)y. My order is generally, 'Yes sir, I'd like a double Johnny Walker Red on the rocks, please.'

As for good Scotch, though not the highest rated among the cognoscenti, I like the Caol Ila for its peaty, full-bodied flavor.

17th Jan 2013, 22:08
Actually it's not. There is a subtle difference; Irish: uisce beatha and the Gaelic: uisge beatha Could it be more subtle? A difference of dialect and spelling.

Indeed Scottish/Irish is merely a reflection of the difference in the water. As anyone who has seen the rivers in Ireland and Scotland. They are coloured by the moors, the bogs. The brown colour of the streams. Perhaps the Irish bogs are milder than the Scottish bogs.

One of my neighbours, a woman was essentially an alcoholic. Eventually she ended up in hospital, dying. The doctors apparently commented that if it wasn't for the fact that here favourite tipple was whiskey, she would have been dead long since. Uisce or Uisge Beatha, it was the water of life.

17th Jan 2013, 22:14
In addition to SSK's Belgian Scotch, there's this one from The Cape. (Breton, not Good Hope.) ;)

Glenora Distillery. (http://www.glenoradistillery.com/glenbreton.htm)

17th Jan 2013, 22:18
My preference when just sitting around the bar having a chat with friends, is Famous Grouse. I know, not that of a high/quality class of Scotch, but I like it.

Oh, on the rocks (with ice) and a dash of water.

galaxy flyer
17th Jan 2013, 22:32
Walker Double Black, limited edition, is quite nice, very peaty.


17th Jan 2013, 22:50
I know, not that of a high/quality class of Scotch, but I like it.

Oh, on the rocks (with ice) and a dash of water

Good for you Con - drink what you like, with what you like.

Whisk(e)y is nearly as bad as wine for bringing out the snobs and bores who will tell you it's anathema to take your dram of Old MacSporran with water/ice/coke or whatever else grabs you.

Stuff 'em I say - I paid for it, I'll drink it the way I like it!

Just remembered, in the unlikely location of the station hotel bar in s'Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands I came across one of the biggest selection of whiskies I've ever seen, including a Welsh example. Can't remember if that was a whisky or a whiskey, but it certainly wasn't Scotch!

17th Jan 2013, 23:04
Taste of the moors ffs?

Get some of the peat bog down you - wimps!

17th Jan 2013, 23:05
If we're going to talk about the golden potion of life can we all please stick to the right spelling. Irish is whiskey, Scotch and other areas are whisky.

Can we also admit to the fact that with a licence to distil Irish whiskey from 1608, the Old Bushmills Distillery in the north coast of Ireland is the oldest licenced whiskey distillery in the world.

Irish is distilled three times, Scotch twice, in general. That is why Irish is smoother.

Scotch makes me ill, however Irish doesn't. Something to do with my Irish ancestry I presume. My body not wanting to be corrupted.

Temp Spike
18th Jan 2013, 01:47
Actually Red Label is just fine. Bond 7...not so much.

18th Jan 2013, 02:21

THE humid streets of Waco, Tex., may not have much in common with the misty glens of Scotland, home to some of the world’s best malt whiskeys.

Not much, that is, until last month, when a single-malt whiskey from the Balcones Distillery in Waco bested nine others, including storied Scottish names like the Balvenie and the Macallan, in a blind panel of British spirits experts.

It was the first time an American whiskey won the Best in Glass, a five-year-old competition to find the best whiskey released in a given year.

By the way, why all this fuss about spelling of 'whisky' vs. 'whiskey?' If one were all high-n-mighty authentic, wouldn't one spell it the original, authentic Gaelic way?


18th Jan 2013, 06:10

Any Speyside whisky can be almost as smooth as the Irish, but still has more character.

I cannae tell a lie... Many years ago in a former life, I owned an old cottage near the banks of the river Spey. I used to take my dog, (a "Gordon Setter" named "Peaches" of al things..), on long walks along its bank. I do have to inform you that along such walks I would occasionally "relieve" myself into the river.

So.... Next time you enjoy any whiskey which draws its water from the "Spey", and which was barreled prior to 1989, (basically your 25 year old stash), just remember where the water came from..... :cool: :cool: :cool:

18th Jan 2013, 07:23
Gordy, you had a Gordon setter? Maddest mutts I've ever encountered. Beautiful but batty.

Oddly enough, I've never been a real Speyside fan; perhaps that's why! I tend to go for Cambeltown, Islay or Orkney malts. Laphroaig quarter-cask last night.

18th Jan 2013, 09:40
The Principality produces Welsh Whisky (http://www.welsh-whisky.co.uk/) too, which is not bad at all.

Iechyd da!

18th Jan 2013, 10:19
Don't tell anybody, but Ingerlund makes it, too. Supposed to be very nice. Mind you, judging by the "whsiky" in the page title, they perhaps sample it a little too often. :p

English Whisky at St.George's Distillery, Roudham, Norfolk for fine single malt whsiky - English Whisky (http://www.englishwhisky.co.uk/)

What the Fug
18th Jan 2013, 10:29
Have heard of Japanese Scotch, and of course there was that trading house in the Middle East that had their own brand of Scotch aimed at workers from the Sub Continent.

Also I was told demand for Irish Whiskey in the US dropped during prohibition as there was no quality control.

Massive boutique shop now opened on Piccadilly just selling whiskey.

wings folded
18th Jan 2013, 11:36
Con pilot

Tastes and so forth are so personal that I could not begin to question your putting (note the gerund) ice in your distilled beer, but for my part I take the same view as the Captain of the Titanic as far as sub zero water is concerned, especially in matters whisky.

A slight dash of water - yes of course.

Famous Grouse was known as Infamous Grouse because of its morish properties.

18th Jan 2013, 11:38
Grouse? I use it for cooking . . .

wings folded
18th Jan 2013, 11:49

I daresay that they are scarcely known before the 12th August, and completely unknown thereafter.

Hardly "famous"

18th Jan 2013, 11:55
Good point, WF. I prefer the taste of partridge anyway.

Back to whisky. The only blend I really enjoy drinking is Black Bottle (note: not Black Label). Although its origins are Speyside, it's loaded with Islay malts. A very nice dram indeed.

wings folded
18th Jan 2013, 12:08

As, I presume, a Scot, do you favour a tiny splash of water in your dram?

I hated whisky until this little astuce was pointed out to me, and now I drink nearly as much of it as my doctor who says I should not drink any of it.

He is in far worse nick than me.

18th Jan 2013, 12:10
My own relationship with Scotch and similar, are far too personal to divulge in a public forum such as JB. Sorry about that. :}

wings folded
18th Jan 2013, 12:14
So you courted Scotch as well?

What she could do with her tongue was memorable.

18th Jan 2013, 12:35
I do have to inform you that along such walks I would occasionally "relieve" myself into the river.Once, when one was younger, a group of we miltary trainees were taking a nice stroll around the hills and heather. We came across a nicce cool little stream and paused to refresh ourselves with the pure, clean spring water before continuing along the banks of this nice little babbling brook. Half a mile on, we came across a dead sheep lying in the water. :hmm:

wings folded
18th Jan 2013, 12:46
I once took a leak in Lake Michigan, north of Chicago, and I suppose that a homeopathic dose may have found its way to Islay. Gulfstream, and all that.

Doesn't stop me drinking their product, though, it is distilled after all.

(Does Islay produce any other product than divine distilled beer?)

18th Jan 2013, 12:58
Dare I say it, but this guy makes quite a nice tipple...

Northmaen Brasserie (http://www.northmaen.com/home.php?rub=accueil)

Click on 'Nos produits" to see it.

18th Jan 2013, 13:07
WF, as to water, yes I generally add a splash of tap water to the dram, at about the 20% level. If I'm on cask-strength, I find it numbs my tongue too much otherwise. I always use room-temperature water as, with non chill filtered malt, water that's too cold can make the dram cloudy as the fatty acids precipitate out and it spoils the look (but not the taste!).

wings folded
18th Jan 2013, 13:10
Been to the site to take a look.

On the page "Notre Whisky" they appear to sell 33cl fo €0.00, 75cl for €0.00 and 70cl for €27.

I think I would go for 75cl bottles :hmm:

wings folded
18th Jan 2013, 13:17

thanks for the response. A bit scientific for me, but informative. I don't use tap water because chlorine does take the edge off the finesse of the taste of the "water of life".

(you don't have that snag in EDI, I know 'cos one of my daughters lives there)

I have never understood the desire to put icebergs in such a noble beverage, though.

Sorry con pilot, not personal you know.

18th Jan 2013, 15:17
Famous Grouse for me for ordinary, everyday use. Lagavullin when drinking with my Muslim friend. If not available, Caol Ila, Laphroig or similar.....

18th Jan 2013, 15:36
I get a bottle of single malt (normally cask strength) delivered with providence every 3 months.

It is expensive, it is a hobby and habit.

Fire lit, wife offered to cook, happy days.

Glowing coming on!

18th Jan 2013, 15:49
I have never understood the desire to put icebergs in such a noble beverage, though.

Sorry con pilot, not personal you know.

Told ya, Con - there's always someone telling you you're doing it wrong.

Never mind, I think I'll have a nice Laphroaig and ginger ale. I find the ginger ale takes that nasty peaty taste away ;)

18th Jan 2013, 15:56
I think I'll have a nice Laphroaig and ginger ale

And for me, a Macallan 18 mojito, with a dash of licorice.:}

At some point, personal taste transmogrifies to perverse sacrilege.

18th Jan 2013, 16:04
For bourbon, there's Booker Noes. I am told that the alcohol content is so high that you shouldn't carry it in luggage when flying. Certainly needs added water, but is VERY nice.

18th Jan 2013, 16:06
I'm with Blacksheep here, I drink what suits my mood. Got a bottle of jura Superstition for Christmas, rated by a whisky fan mate of mine as the best ever. Looking forward to trying it. Also some stones to freeze and put in to give you scotch on the rocks without the dilution factor. Supposed to not taste - we will see.

Whisky versus Whiskey

A lady friend of mine used to drink it regularly. On entering a pub the conversation would go like this:-

UFO "What will you have?"
Lady "Scotch on the rocks, please"
UFO "What brand?"
Lady "Jameson's"


18th Jan 2013, 17:02
You'd think that a Scot living in Ireland would look down his nose at the local Whiskey, but I don't have a strong opinion either way. I've not had much of either, and I've never properly sampled a good Scotch. I do have a bottle of good Irish in at the moment: the Powers John's Lane Release (http://www.powerswhiskey.com/powers-12-year-special-reserve0.html), a 12-y.o. single pot still (http://www.singlepotstill.com/), which is very nice. You don't expect a whisk(e)y to be creamy, but this one is, a bit.

After this, I think a Scotch will be next. A Macallan, perhaps, or I might try something from the Islands.