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Will you be having whisky or whiskey this Independence Day?

As our American friends are celebrating Independence Day (or 4th of July), we thought we’d take a wee look at how America’s finest Bourbon has a large impact in the Scotch whisky industry.

Whisky or whiskey?

The main difference between whisky and whiskey is of course the spelling. This reflects the original Scots and Gaelic derivations of the word ‘Uisce beatha’, meaning Water of Life, with each variation being carried through to modern use. Irish immigration to America in the 18th century means that we also refer to American ‘whiskey’ spelled with an e.

What is Bourbon?
  • Bourbon is American whiskey that has been made from a minimum of 51% corn with rye and malted barley. Examples of bourbon include Jim Beam and Wild Turkey whiskey.
  • In Bourbon whiskey, the residue from the pot still is mixed with the mash to create a ‘sour mash’ whiskey.
  • Distillation of bourbon usually takes place in a column still and then a pot still, but sometimes only column stills are used – Woodford Reserve operate a triple distillation in pot stills.
  • Bourbon spirit is always matured in fresh first-fill American oak casks, which are charred to yield more flavour.

Whiskey-making law in the USA states that a barrel can only be used once to mature the water of life. Which is lucky for Scotland as it means that there are plenty of American oak barrels for our Scotch whisky distillers to mature whisky in – the softened oak characteristics lingering from the first fill giving the Scotch whisky a beautiful, and very distinctive flavour.

Are you a big bourbon fan? Here are a few whiskies from across the Scottish regions that you might well enjoy…

Auchentoshan American Oak

The American Oak is part of this Lowland distillery’s core range, and one you’ll often see on tour here at the Scotch Whisky Experience. Triple distilled and therefor lighter than most malts in character  the classic toasted oak flavours of vanilla and coconut from the ex-bourbon casks come to the fore more than most.

BenRomach Organic

The first fully-certified 100% organic whisky from a distillery that brand their Stillman ‘the fourth ingredient’, this virgin American oak-matured Speyside Scotch has flavours of sweet, ripe banana, white pepper and a lingering sweet fruitiness.

Spey Trutina

This wee beauty from Spey Distillers is a limited cask release with only 1,500 bottles created. It is matured in Bourbon casks and is as pure as they come, no colouring added, non chill filtered and bottled at cask strength.
Fresh fruits & floral

Kilchoman 100% Islay

We have a sixth sense that you’ll enjoy this 6th edition of the Kilchoman 100% Islay, their annually released limited edition. From barley to bottle everything is carried out at the distillery. This latest edition is a combination of fresh and refill ex Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels filled in 2010 and bottled in 2016, making it the the most mature 100% Islay release to date.

Haig Club

A staple ingredient for the key flavours of so many well-loved bourbon whiskies, we couldn’t leave out what’s become a really special example of a single grain Scotch. Haig Club’s distinctive blue bottle means you can’t miss it on the shelf, this cocktail-friendly whisky’s fresh, clean flavours of spicy wood, with notes of toffee, tropical fruit and butterscotch are ones you’ll immediately recognise among your favourite elements of a Bourbon.

All these whiskies are available in our onsite Scotch Shop, or if you live in the UK, you can grab yourself a bottle via our Online Whisky Gift Shop. (Over 18s only, please drink responsibly).