Let’s have a drink and talk about this.
The spirit has been around long before Victoria’s reign, but at least two of us refer to it in our WIPs, so I thought it worthy of discussion. I must start off by saying I hate the stuff–and I don’t know what you mean when you use the word.
According to my liquor store (or LCBO as we call it), there is American Whiskey, here referred to as Bourbon. Brands include Jack Daniel’s and Wild Turkey, and the interestingly named ‘Rebel Yell Straight Bourbon Whiskey’ (and its not cheap!) Bourbon is not terribly popular here in this part of Canada, and there are only three pages of brands.
Then there’s Canadian Whisky, or Rye. The LCBO site has twelve pages for this category, and include such brands as Alberta Premium, Canadian Club and Crown Royal.
The next category is Irish Whiskey (and I have no idea what we call it). Although there are three pages of brands, I’ve never heard of any of them, but they include Jameson, Locke’s Irish Whiskey, and Paddy Old Irish Whiskey.
Then we come to Scotch Whisky and–good lord, there’s twenty pages of the stuff! We call this stuff Scotch. Black and White, Chivas Regal, and Glenlivet are familiar names, but there’s another ELEVEN PAGES of something called "Scotch-Malt Whisky" and I don’t know what the difference is except I’ve never heard of any of these.
From Whisky Web comes this information:
What is the difference between Scotch, Irish, Rye and Bourbon whiskies?
Scotch whisky is whisky which has been distilled and matured in Scotland. Irish whiskey means whiskey distilled and matured in Ireland. This information, apparently, for the brain-dead. Whisky is distilled in Scotland from malted barley in pot stills and from malted and unmalted barley or other cereals in patent stills. The well-known brands of Scotch whisky are blends of a number of pot still and patent still whiskies. Irish whiskey distillers tend to favour three distillations rather than two, as is general in Scotland in the case of pot still whiskies, and the range of cereals used is wider.
As regards Bourbon whiskey, the United States regulations provide:
(i) that Bourbon whiskey must be produced from a mash of not less than 51% corn grain;
(ii) that the word Bourbon shall not be used to describe any whiskey or whiskey-based distilled spirits not produced in the United States.
Rye whiskey is produced both in the United States and Canada but the name has no geographical significance. In the United States, rye whiskey by definition must be produced from a grain mash of which not less than 51% is rye grain.
In Canada, there is no similar restriction. The relevant Canadian regulation states:
Canadian Whisky (Canadian Rye Whisky, Rye Whisky) shall be whisky distilled in Canada, and shall possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian Whisky. Gotta love our Canadian lawyers, eh? Does this mean ANYTHING??? But then, I couldn't find the regulation they refer to. Canadian whisky is in fact often referred to simply as rye whisky or rye.
So there you have it. American and Irish: WhiskEy. Canadian and Scottish: Whisky