Food & Drink | Bourbon, Irish Whiskey, Scotch – What’s the Difference?


By: Jamie Solis, Editor


Known as the one-stop specialty store for spirits, oils and vinegars, it is no surprise that many patrons head into VOM FASS Claremont with whiskey on the mind. VOM FASS is known for its extensive whiskey selection that includes Scotch, Bourbon, Rye or Irish whiskey. While all whiskeys have similarities, each type has its own set of rules from its production to its aging process. The guide below will help you understand the necessary characteristics for each type of liquor, with a focus on Irish Whiskey and three brand-new varieties by the Teely brothers available now at VOM FASS Claremont. Bottoms up!



Whiskey (Irish and American varieties) and whisky (Scotch or Canadian varieties) is made up of three ingredients—grain, water and yeast. These three ingredients can yield a diverse end product, all depending upon many factors. Let’s examine the differences between Irish whiskey, Scotch whisky, Bourbon and Rye.

Bourbon is a type of whiskey that is single-distilled. To be a Bourbon, the spirit must be produced in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, Bourbon doesn’t need to be made in Kentucky to be authentic. However, Kentucky-made is a requirement for “Kentucky Bourbon.” Other guidelines include that the Bourbon:

  • Must be at least 51% corn mash,
  • Must be matured in virgin, charred oak barrels
  • Must be matured for at least two years

Fun fact: There is a hot debate about where the name Bourbon originated from. Bourbon Street in New Orleans claims the fame while Bourbon County, Kentucky seems to be a pretty safe bet.  


Rye Whiskey
With almost identical rules to Bourbon, Rye Whiskey is a single-distilled whiskey that is produced in the U.S. Rye Whiskey characterstics include:

  • Must be matured in virgin, charred oak barrels for two years.
  • The biggest difference between Rye Whiskey and Bourbon is like in the name, Rye Whiskey needs to be made from 51% rye instead of corn mash. This typically yields a taste that isn't quite a sweet as you get with corn mash.


Scotch Whisky
Scotch is another highly celebrated whisky at VOM FASS Claremont. Scotch is usually double distilled, and it must be made and bottled in Scotland. Scotch has a minimum aging period of three years, and it must not be less than 40% alcohol by volume. It also must be aged in wooden casks no larger than 700 liters.

Fun Fact: One fine Scotch, Auchentoshan, is the only Scotch that is triple distilled similar to the way Irish whiskey is distilled. Coming from a distillery close to the border of Ireland, there is a debate on who copied who, the Irish or the Scottish.


Irish Whiskey

There are many characteristics of a true Irish whiskey that make it authentic besides being triple distilled. First, Irish whiskey must be distilled and aged on the island of Ireland, either in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. Like Scotch, the product must also age in wooden casks no larger than 700 liters for a minimum of three years.

Fun Fact: Both United States and Ireland impose laws upon distillation to ensure it stops below 100 percent. It is also important to note that if a whiskey is comprised of two or more distillates, it is considered a blended Irish whiskey.



 VOM FASS just got in three brand-new Irish whiskeys, which have been executed by the Teeling brothers to ensure their products are like nothing you have tasted before: Jack’s Choice, Brothers in Arms and Against the Grain.

The Teeling Whiskey legacy started in 1782 when Walter Teeling embarked upon the first Teeling family craft distillery in Dublin. Now, Jack and Stephen Teeling are carrying on their family’s centuries-old tradition of Dublin, while reaching new heights for Irish whiskey in the process.

Jack’s Choice is a single malt Irish Whiskey that is fun on the palate, with a complex flavor that wraps every corner of your mouth with a different type of tingling sensation. Jack’s Choice is known for its goat cheese taste and an earthy finish that is indicative of its being aged in French wine casks.


Brothers in Arms is considered a 14-year-old Irish Whiskey, although one of the whiskeys in it that has been aged for 21 years. It is an enjoyable drink with a soft, nutty taste. Aged in a sherry cask, there is a subtle sweet aroma with hints of caramel and toffee.


Against the Grain is an Irish single grain whiskey that has been aged for just five years. It is outstanding how smooth and light Against the Grain is from the nose to the finish. Its taste stands alone really well, holding lively characteristics from being aged in ex-Cabernet Sauvignon casks.

These Irish whiskeys are just an exciting preview into the plentiful stock of whiskeys, spirits, oils, vinegars and more that VOM FASS Claremont has to offer. For the month of March, if you buy one (or more!) of VOM FASS’ three new Irish whiskeys, you get to Test Your Luck with an Irish Duck in the VOM FASS Lucky Duck Pond. You can win up to a $100 gift card, so don’t miss out on this fun opportunity to enjoy their new whiskey selection.



Now that we know the differences between Bourbon, Rye whiskey, Irish whiskey and Scotch, VOM FASS Claremont would like to share some easy cocktail recipes with you to help you embark on your journey of whiskey fun! Check out some of VOM FASS Claremont’s great whiskey recipes below:



1/4 cup Rye Whiskey
2 tablespons sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine Rye Whiskey, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters into a glass filled with ice. Stir mixture until the outside of the glass is cold to the touch. Strain into a class, and garnish with one cherry. Serve, and enjoy!


Penicillin Cocktail

60 milliliters MacSpey Blended Scotch
20 milliliters fresh lemon juice
20 milliliters ginger liqueur
10 milliliters Laphroaig Scotch

Combine blended scotch, lemon juice and liqueur in a shaker, fill with ice, and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass, and float Islay scotch on top.


Irish Redhead

3 ounces Irish Whiskey
1 ounce grenadine
5-6 ounces lemon-lime soda
A squeeze of lemon & lime juice

Mix all of the ingredients, and simply serve over ice. Garnish with lemon or lime wedge. Enjoy!

Locked and Loaded

2 ounces Bourbon
.5 ounces lemon juice
1 ounce Grapefruit Liqueur
2 ounces sparkling water

Combine Bourbon, lemon juice and Grapefruit Liqueur into a mixing glass. Shake until well chilled. Fill a rocks glass with ice, strain cocktail into glass, top with sparkling water, and garnish with a fresh slice of grapefruit.

Don’t miss the fun and delicious March events and activities happening at VOM FASS Claremont. Their classes and workshops are known to sell out fast, so check out their website or call (909) 399-0256 to learn more.


Full disclosure: This featured article is sponsored by VOM FASS Claremont, an promotional partner. However, all opinions expressed are 100% our own.