As the age old adage goes, variety is the spice of life. This saying cannot ring truer when it comes to the types of whisky you choose to drink here at The Thirsty Barber. If you’re looking for a great selection, then we advise you to look no further. But before we tempt your fine taste buds with our vast array of this rich drink, we thought we’d look into the different types of whisky.

To understand the difference between whiskies, you first must understand what a whisky actually is. To keep it simple, whisky is any booze distilled from fermented grain mash. The only exception to this is, the fact that some whisky is made from corn, which doesn’t always have to be aged. All whisky must be distilled at a minimum of 40% and a maximum of 94.8% alcohol by volume (ABV). The difference between the various whiskies relies mostly on the kind of grain used for the mash.

Scotch Whisky

This variety is made from malted barley or grain with the spirit aged in oak casks no bigger than 700 litres for no less than three years. All whisky is made from fermented grain mash, Scotch being no exception. To qualify as a scotch, the spirit must be made from malted Barley. Many scotches are made from nothing more than barley, water and yeast. Whole grains of other cereals as well as caramel colouring are also allowed to be used. However, no fermentation additives or short-cuts are permitted.

The spirit must also be aged in oak casks for a minimum of three years, and must have an ABV at less than 94.8%. Finally, and most importantly you cannot call your drink Scotch unless it was made 100% in Scotland.

Bourbon Whisky

This kind of whisky is made from a grain mixture of at least 51% corn. This mixture’s fermentation process is usually initiated by mixing in some mash from an older already fermenting consignment, a process known as sour mash.

Similar to the production of Scotch, Bourbon can only be labelled as such if it was produced in the United States. While the rubrics are slightly more lenient, it still has to conform to a few requirements: it must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol and be no more than 62.5% when put into casks for aging in new charred oak barrels.

Finally, while it technically doesn’t have a minimum aging period, to call your product Straight Bourbon it must be aged for a minimum of two years, without having any colouring, flavour or other spirits added to it. On the other hand, blended Bourbon is permitted to contain such additives, so long as 51% of the mix is straight Bourbon. What’s more, the age on the bottle of blended bourbon must be the age of the youngest whisky in the mix.

Tennessee Whisky

Basically, Tennessee Whisky is straight Bourbon made in the state of Tennessee. The people who produce it, such as Jack Daniels, don’t want their whiskey labelled as Bourbon, claiming that they’re the only type of whiskey which puts the spirit through a charcoal filtering process. Consequently, they believe their drink deserves to be eminent with a separate name.

Rye Whisky

This one’s considered to be the trickiest of all whiskies by definition. The is mainly because it comes from a historical naming convention for Rye produced in Canada. While you’d assume Rye whisky must be made predominantly from Rye mash, interestingly, this isn’t always the case.

Canada has distilled Rye for almost as long as the country has existed, and historically the majority of the mash was comprised of Rye mash. But with no actual rules in place the spirit is now produced with a mash sporting a corn to rye ration as high as 9:1. The only rule to label your whisky as Rye in Canada is for it to have some rye in it, and to possess the aroma, taste and character generally ascribed to Canadian whisky.

American Rye whisky on the other hand must be made from a mash made from no less than 51% rye. The other ingredients commonly used include corn and barley. Same as Bourbon, it must be aged in charred new oak barrels distilled to an ABV less than 80% (and like bourbon it must be no more than 62.5% when added to the cask). Again, just like Bourbon, only Rye which has been aged for over two years may be referred to as Straight.

Irish Whisky

This variety of spirit refers to pretty much any whisky aged in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland. Like Scotch, it must be distilled to an ABV of less than 94.8, and must be made from yeast-fermented grain mash in such a way that the distillate has an aroma and flavour derived from the materials used. While producers are free to use any cereal grains, if they mix two or more distillates it must be labelled as blended. This whisky must be aged for at minimum of three years in wooden casks.

Created around the popular speak-easy bars that originated in America’s prohibition-era, decorated with a 20s theme, The Thirsty Barber is boasts of a menu that has a swanky ‘whisky station’ with different brands and blends of this luscious drink from all over the world for its clientele to sample. To maintain our authentic speakeasy style, we don’t let just anyone in – so make sure you pre-book if you want to see what this exclusive bar has to offer.

A good night out with friends doesn’t always have to be the usual drill of bar hopping. If you want something different, then we suggest for you to head down to The Thirsty Barber on Ball Street in St Julian’s.

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