What is the difference between whisky, whiskey and Bourbon?
What is the difference between whisky, whiskey and Bourbon?

Whisky vs whiskey vs bourbon. Is there a difference?

By Buhle Mbonambi Time of article published Oct 24, 2019

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The whisky boom in South Africa doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. As more brands launch and come to our shores, it’s clientele is getting even more sophisticated, building their palettes to be able to decipher which producer, style, maturity and type they prefer.

There are those who are die hard Scotch whisky drinkers and they believe anything else is subpar. Then there are the Irish whiskey fans, who are also adamant that drinking anything else, is sacrilege. And then the Americans come in with their bourbon, which widens the categories of the brown liquid even more. Oh and we haven’t even touched on the local producers and craft distillers. 

So is there a difference in all these brown liquors? Or is it all just marketing?

We spoke to Steve Zylstra, who is a whiskey fan and also a Maker’s Mark ambassador, to shed some light on the matter. 

Does it matter that you are drinking whiskey or whisky? Is this not basically the same beverage, but just made in different locations?

I don't’ think that it matters, per se. It depends on your preference. Scotch single malt whisky uses only three ingredients, while with Irish you can use more. 

Is it a similar situation where sparkling wine can only be called Champagne, MCC, Cava, etc. because of where it was produced?

Yes. Scotch must be made in Scotland and is spelt without the ‘e’. 

Are there any subtle differences between the tastes of whiskey and whisky?

Yes. The climate makes an incredible difference in flavour profile. As well as the different processes utilised in each region. 

Why have South African brands gone with Whisky, instead of Whiskey?

It’s most probably because of the influence that their founders brought. They were probably Scottish.

What is the whisky industry doing to make sure that they keep appealing to a younger clientele? 

Consistent market analysis allows us to adapt our packaging and serving suggestions. This way we will appeal to a younger audience. We are also trying to secure bourbon as a category of its own. Our softer and slightly sweeter spirit allows all whisky lovers and non-whisky lovers alike to sit back and enjoy. 

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