Whiskey or Whisky? - Here’s what you need to know

The world of whisky is full of confusing buzzwords. From Scotch, Bourbons and Single Malts, it can be difficult to understand what you want. But one question that often causes the most confusion: is the difference between Whisky and Whiskey. So what exactly is the difference?

Birdseye view of whisky on the rocks


The main difference between Whisky and Whiskey is the spelling. This reflects Scottish and Gaelic derivations of the word ‘Uisce Beatha’, meaning Water of Life. Whiskey is an American spelling, which is due to a large number of Irish immigrants at the time. These are just two varieties of a wide family of spirits and alcohol. Understanding the key differences will help you unlock a spectrum of flavours…

Photographic of scotch whisky

Scotch Whisky

Did you know there is a law stating what can be legally classified as Scotch Whisky? As of 23rd November 2009, it became part of the Scotch Whiskey Regulation. Defining the production, labelling and advertising of this drink. To be a Scotch Whiskey it must:

  • Have been produced and matured in Scotland
  • Been matured in oak for 3 years
  • Must contain 100% Oak Barley (with no extra ingredients) 

Fancy a taste? Why not check out our Glenfidditch Fire and Cane Whisky? A fusion of two distinctive flavours, campfire smokiness and sweet toffee. A prestigious, quality Scotch from one of the world’s highly award-winning Whisky brands. The perfect gift for whisky lovers looking for a smooth single malt. 

Irish Whiskey Barrel

Irish Whiskey

On the other hand, the Irish Whiskey Act was established in 1980; to define what is classed as Irish Whiskey and how it was made. Legally stating how it must be produced and labelled. To be an Irish Whisky it must:

  • Be distilled 3 times and matured for 3 years
  • Contain a distillate of malt, barley and a portion of grain spirit. 
  • Use little to no peat (resulting in no smokiness in these whiskies)

Want to try? Why not check out Proper Twelve Irish Whiskey? A triple-distilled Irish Whiskey, with an ultra-smooth blend of grain; with hints of vanilla and honey, for a rich complexity. The founder, Conor Mcgregor describes it as a ‘proper Irish whiskey’. Now only £29, when brought with the hoodie; making this a great gift for all Whiskey lovers. 

A glass of bourbon sitting on a table with mood lighting behind


Whilst those are the main types in the United Kingdom, there are more further afield. For example, Bourbon is a type of American Whiskey. It got its name from a small town in Kentucky called ‘Bourbon. To be classed as Bourbon, the spirit needs to have a minimum of 51% Corn, with Rye and malted barley.

A great example is the Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Made from the same formula since 1795, aged for four years in oak barrels, creating a smooth, mellow taste with hints of spice. Perfect for mixing with cocktails, enjoying neat or on the rocks.

Japanese Whisky in an art deco glass

Japanese Whisky

Japanese Whisky has appeared quite recently, coming into being in the 1920s. It was inspired by Scotch Whisky, with academic institutions in Scotland training the first whisky makers in Japan. This means the process is very similar to Scotch Whiskey, however, there is no legal minimum maturation period. And Japanese whiskies are usually aged over 5 years. 

Want to try some Japanese Whisky? Take a look at our Tenjaku Japanese Whisky. A gold medal whisky, made from natural spring water, protecting perfected flavours through the art of the Tenjaku blend. An exponentially smooth, well-balanced whiskey with a slightly spicy note and oaky sweet finish. Great to sip.

No matter if you enjoy a traditional Scottish Whisky or a smokey tasting Bourbon stateside, we have a selection of spirits that all Whiskey (and Whisky!) lovers will enjoy.

Shop our selection here