Figuring out the difference between a Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey takes some time and effort. The two spirits share major similarities, but also diverge in a few crucial ways. These differences amount to more than whether you spell one with an “e” or not, though it’s worth clarifying — Scotch whisky is always spelled without the “e”; Irish whiskey is always spelled with the “e.” This quirk seems to have started in the late 19th century, created by Irish distillers as a way to distinguish Irish whiskey from Scotch whisky on the consumer market.
Names aside, there’s more that separates the two spirts than simply the regions these whiskeys are produced in. Yes, Ireland and Scotland are close neighbors on the Irish Sea but their spirits tend to have only minor similarities past both being brown booze made from fermented and then distilled grains. Hopefully, the explainer below can help you better understand the difference between these two powerhouse regional spirits. The first thing to remember with booze is that sometimes there aren’t any hard and fast rules. Or, more specifically, rules exist but so do exceptions, nuances, and thriving rule-breakers.
In the end, what may be true “traditionally” may no longer be true for some distillers working today. Exceptions abound. Still with us? Cool, let’s dive in!