We’ll look into the differences that lie between Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky, making them two unique liquors in their own right.
Whiskey was never a man’s drink, though the male clan believed that it was a mark of supremacy, prestige and dominance to be seen with a crystal glass filled with this on the rocks. Not anymore. Women are growing fond of the dark, amber drink, attuning their taste buds to a whiskey’s vibrancy and undertones. Carefully distilled to match the expectations of those who consume it, whiskey is now a drink that sits high up on the pedestal as the choice among drinkers. Not only can it be had on the rocks, with tonic or a splash of water, but can now be incorporated into the fun part of drinking – cocktails.
While it may steal away the aromas and flavors that whiskey holds and is known for, it does take some of its edge off by adding whiskey to a fun cocktail mix. You get good Scotch and you get bad Scotch, where connoisseurs of liquor, specifically whiskey, have tried and tested these over years of research.
So what is the difference between Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky? For starters, as the name implies, Irish whiskey is distilled and bottled in Ireland, whereas the latter is done in Scotland. These may be the same body of ingredients, but they still have distinct qualities that set them apart.
Difference Between Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky
If ever you get the chance, check out a distillery that does whiskey and watch how tedious the process is with so much work put into producing that perfect bottled drink. No one ever thinks about what goes into the process, where exposing yourself to a firsthand distillation experience would be helpful. The Scots and Irishmen got it right, being the two cultures that have been able to offer the best there is in the whiskey business. For those who are clueless about whiskey drinking can go to how to drink whiskey for expert suggestions. So what are the differences that make these twins complete opposites despite being related?
|Irish whiskey is put through a maturation process that requires a minimum of three years, giving it its unparalleled taste and aroma.
|Scotch unlike Irish whiskey, is put through a process that undergoes a minimum maturation period of 3 years as well and is in most cases distilled thrice, although longer in some distilleries. The flavor and aroma here are quite strong and full bodied.
|Irish whiskey is kept in vats and put through a vatting process which gives it about three years time to mature or more as mentioned earlier. It is made from malted barley, using dried kilns that are kept sealed.
|Scotch whisky on the other hand uses wholly malted barley which is first sprouted and then subsequently dried before it is used in most cases in a double distillation process (after the dried malt is ground into what is known as ‘grist’, it is then mixed with hot water and placed within a ‘mash tun’. It is further mixed until a sugary blend is produced known as ‘wort’. This wort is then put into vessels called ‘washbacks’ where yeast is added to it for the fermentation process to commence. A liquid called ‘wash’ is obtained where it contains a certain percentage of alcohol, which is then transferred to ‘stills’ and passed through a condenser). The maltose is the product you achieve once the starch in the barley is left to convert to this, by being left to dry after it is soaked in water. Peat smoke is introduced midway into the process to give Scotch whisky its distinctive aroma.
|Irish whiskey is kept at a low temperature and away from smoke/fire to help it embody its honey flavor, and toast laced undertones.
|Scotch whisky is aged in oak barrels / casks that uses peat smoke dried barley as part of the distillation, making it a much stronger alternative to Irish whiskey, where the aging process as you now know, is again a minimum of 3 years. Scotch whisky is matured in wooden casks where it is transferred between barrels to help it age differently, known as a ‘wood finish’ technique. Irish and Scotch whisky both use pot stills, although the latter sometimes matures in oak casks, while the former uses beer / sherry / bourbon casks in varied cases.
It’s an art to work with alcohol given the fact that the process behind a fine bottle of whiskey is not one to take lightly. Old Scotch or Irish whiskey is better had when aged, like wine. It adds a little something extra special to the whiskey on the taste front, since it matures into a refined liquid with the passing of time. If either find their way to your bar, it must be savored like a true connoisseur of this drink.