Difference Between Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky (With Table)

Whiskey lovers have a craving for Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky. The reason for this craving as these whiskeys are mostly imported from abroad. People may think that these whiskeys are the same as they are originated from Ireland and Scotland which are close neighbors. Also, some people may think that Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky constitute different brands.

Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky are two altogether different whiskeys (not from a single company) using different types of barley in preparation.

Irish Whiskey vs Scotch Whisky

The difference between Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky is that Irish Whiskey follows triple distillation, while Scotch Whisky follows double distillation.

However, the above is not the only difference. A comparison between both the terms on certain parameters can shed light on subtle aspects:


Comparison Table Between Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky (in Tabular Form)

Parameters of ComparisonIrish WhiskeyScotch Whiskey
Preparation FocusDistillationBlending
DistillationTriple distillationDouble distillation
Usage of copper potsCopper pot apparatus for distilling is used but not with a wide varietyExtensive types of copper pot apparatus for distilling is used
TasteSmooth taste with vanilla flavorFuller and heavier
BarleyUnmalted Barley used; there may be some grains used as wellMalted Barley used in preparation
Aging periodUsually 3 yearsCan be less than 3 years
OriginOriginated firstOriginated later than Irish Whiskey
Originating geographyIrelandScotland
Spelling differenceIrish Whiskey is spelled as “Irish Whiskey” i.e. letter “e” is usedScotch Whisky is spelled as “Scotch Whisky” i.e. letter “e” is not used in the word “Whisky”
Applicable LawsThe Irish Whiskey Act of 1980Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009
Common BrandsJameson, Teeling Single Grain, Bushmills 21 Year Single Malt, Green Spot, Writers Tears Pot StillChivas Regal 12, 100 Pipers Deluxe


What is Irish Whiskey?

Irish Whiskey as the name “Irish” suggests is a whiskey made in and originated in Ireland. Irish Whiskey was launched in the United States in the early 18th century by certain Irish immigrants. Since then it has become of the popular whiskey not just in the United States but throughout the world, although it had a certain period of decline in the 19th century. However, Irish Whiskey has gained immense popularity as the fastest-growing whiskey since 1990.

Irish Whiskey is prepared from unmalted and raw barley. However, an important aspect is that the drying of barley in covered kilns keeps the natural flavor of barley intact which eventually translates into a great fine tasting whiskey.

Irish Whiskey is commonly matured for a minimum of three years. The pot apparatus used in distillation is usually thrice the normal size of usual copper pots. Irish Whiskey is triple distilled. This additional distillation is considered as an important factor producing a smooth and light flavor for the whiskey. Oak casks, ex-bourbon, or Sherry casks may also be used in the preparation of Irish Whiskey which leads to classic sweet and spicy flavors.

Irish Whiskey‘s use of unmalted barley in the preparation has a historical connotation. It seems that there was a certain tax on malt which used to exist in Ireland. Therefore, whiskey producers used unmalted barley in the Irish Whiskey. Though the malt tax was later abolished, the producers continued using unmalted barley in the preparation.

Irish Whiskey production is heaving regulated in Ireland through the Irish Whiskey Act 1980 which specifies the basic requirement for preparation, distillation, and maturing of whiskey. Also, Irish Whiskey is considered as a  protected European Geographical Indication (GI) under Regulation (EC) No 110/2008.

There are multiple types of Irish Whiskey such as single malt Irish Whiskey, single pot still whiskey, grain whiskey and blended whiskey.  Certain Irish Whiskeys may carry an age statement. These types of whiskeys are considered as reasonable and cheap compared to certain other whiskeys.

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What is Scotch Whisky?

Scotch Whisky as the name “Scotch” suggests is a whiskey made in Scotland. Scotch Whisky is prepared from malted barley. The malt used is first sprouted and later dried. The heavier taste of Scotch Whisky is attributed to the usage of malt ingredients. Scotch Whisky also has a strong and pleasant flavor. Oak casks, ex-bourbon, or Sherry casks may also be used in the preparation of Scotch Whisky which leads to classic flavors.

Scotch Whisky is commonly double distilled. However, there could be certain exceptions to these rules in certain distilleries which may adopt triple distillation. Also, the copper pot apparatus which is used for distilling is more extensive.

Scotch Whisky uses malted barley for preparation. The malt used is a whole one. Also, a mixture of various grains could be used. Blending is also a mechanism which is used in prominence while making Scotch Whiskey.  There is more focus on blending in the production of whisky. Scotch Whisky is matured for two years.

Scotch Whisky comes in various types such as single malt Scotch whisky, single grain Scotch whisky, blended malt Scotch whisky, blended grain Scotch whisky, and blended Scotch whisky. Scotch Whisky is regulated by Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 (SWR) which specifies the requirements related to production, labeling, packaging, and distributing of Scotch whiskey.

Main Differences Between Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky

  1. Irish Whiskey follows triple distillation. Scotch Whisky uses a double distillation process.
  2.  Irish Whiskey is commonly aged for 3 years. Scotch Whisky can be aged for 3 years or less.
  3.  Irish Whiskey was originated first in history in Ireland. Scotch Whisky later came into the picture in Scotland.
  4. Irish Whiskey uses unmalted and raw barley in the preparation. Scotch Whisky uses malted barley.
  5. Irish Whiskey does not make use of extensive copper pot apparatus for distilling. Scotch Whisky uses an extensive variety of copper pot stills for the distillation process.
  6. Irish Whiskey has a smooth taste with loads of vanilla flavor. Scotch Whisky has a strong and heavy taste.



Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky have multiple commonalities as well as differences. Again, the differences will depend on the place where the whiskey is made and the ingredients used or the method utilized in the process. Also, it can be a safe saying that no two Irish Whiskey or Scotch Whisky brands can be alike and there could be small or significant variations between them.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780124017351000015

Last update on 2021-10-22 / Amazon Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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