When most people talk about Scotch, they are usually referring to any whisky. However, while all Scotch is whisky, not all whiskies are Scotch. If you are asking for Scotch at any bar or club, you should be getting a Scottish whisky.
There are a specific set of guidelines that whisky must meet if it is to be labelled as Scotch. The most important of these guidelines is that the whisky must be made and matured in Scotland. Scottish whisky can be made using several different methods, but the most common are single malt whisky and blended whisky.
A single malt needs to be entirely made by a single distillery. Often people are confused by the label and think ‘single malt’ relates to the whisky only containing one type of grain, but it is in reference to the distilleries used. The term single means everything that happened at one particular distillery; this is mainly completed for quality control. The spirits can come from two or more distilleries with a blended whisky, and they are mixed to form one complete whisky. While a single malt whisky has more prestige, blended whisky will offer greater variety in flavour.
In Scotland, the whisky distilleries are divided into separate areas based on their production style and flavour profile. These areas are The Highlands (with The Islands being a subsection), The Lowlands, Speyside, Islay, and Campbeltown. The whiskies in these areas will have common traits, and most whisky enthusiasts can determine which region a Scottish single whisky was distilled.
What is the difference between Scotch and whisky?
Whisky is an all-encompassing term, and it can be defined as any spirits derived from distilling fermented grains. There are many different types of whisky, including spicy whisky, blended whisky, rye whisky, corn whisky, bourbon whisky; there are even whiskies made with Australian native grasses!
Scotch whisky means any whisky that was distilled and matured in barrels in Scotland. You cannot make Scotch outside of Scotland. It's similar to how you cannot produce Champagne outside of France, you can create something similar, but the name (and trademark) is protected by law.
However, as Scotch is so synonymous with whisky, many people may refer to whisky as Scotch. You can correct some people for this fact, but often it is much better to let it slide and just savour a brilliant Australian whisky. It’s not a requirement to know what is the difference between Scotch and whisky to enjoy either of these drinks. However, if you’d like to share what you’ve learned, you can purchase any whisky gift pack that clearly explains the origins of the whisky they're drinking.
Alternatively, you can buy a whisky tasting set from Lark Distillery and invite them over to compare one of the best Australian single malt whiskies against any Scotch. You may find they're quite impressed with what other countries can do with fermented grains and plenty of time.
In Australia, the whisky industry is not as heavily regulated, and this means you can find an outstanding array of different whiskies. Our whisky industry is incredibly young when compared to the 500+ years of Scottish whisky. An Australian whisky does not have a specific flavour profile, and with the boom of boutique distilleries recently, you’ll find brilliant whiskies coming from almost every state of Australia. Tasmania is seen as the heart of the Australian whisky industry because the climate is perfect for crafting premium aged whisky.
How to choose between Scotch or whisky?
Scotch has a certain prestige and reputation, but that does not mean that all Scotch whisky is brilliant. There is a variance in Scotch, just like whiskies from any country of origin. You can get high-end whiskies, along with those that you may drink in a weekend bender with your mates.
When you're choosing between Scotch and whisky, getting both is often the best option. Whisky (Scotch or not) is meant to be tasted and enjoyed. Only by tasting from a large selection can you honestly tell which is better. Have a read of any tasting notes for the whisky you're looking at, and decide if those flavours match your preference. If you can find two whiskies that have a similar flavour profile, then they'll match well, and you can enjoy discussing the qualities of both, ideally accompanying a good meal!
If you’re looking to compare a traditional Scottish whisky, then aim for a peated whisky. This delightful smoke-infused whisky is made using peat as a part of the process. They have a similar flavour profile to when whisky was first crafted in Scotland in the 15th century. At Lark Distillery, we have our version of smokey whisky made using pure Tasmanian peat, and we think it is a worthy contender for the crown of best smokey whisky.
Where to buy the best Scotch or whisky?
Scotch is exported all over the world, and you can buy these at most retail liquor stores. However, the best place to find a premium Scotch drink is through online retailers. When you buy online, you have access to a greater array of products. For example, you can find every beverage that Lark has released and made available for sale in our online store. While you can find many of our products in retail stores, you may not find some of our special releases and limited-release rare whiskies.
After you place an order for your favourite whisky in our online shop, we'll pack it up carefully and send it out within one business day. All orders are handled by our staff, and these are shipped using the team at Australia Post. You can expect your order to arrive in less than 2 days for metro areas or 7 days for a regional address. If you're interested in Scotch, then having a top-shelf Australian whisky as a comparison will show you if Scotch is really worth fussing over.