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  • How Whiskey Is Made | What Is Whiskey Made From?

    How Whiskey Is Made | What Is Whiskey Made From?

    Whiskey originated in Scotland, and there are two main types of whiskey: single malt and single grain. Outside of Scotland, whiskey can be referred to as scotch whisky or other names. Bourbon is considered an American whiskey.

    In Ireland, whiskey is spelled with the addition of an “e.” The word Whiskey was derived from the Irish language and means the “water of life.” The Gaelic words for the water of life are uisge beatha.

    Irish whiskey must be: 

    • produced from cereal grain, barley, or malt
    • distilled
    • aged
    • bottled

    This is the general process of how whiskey is made. Below, we take a closer look at the ingredients needed for the production of whiskey.

    Types Of Whiskey & Their Ingredients

    Since there are a variety of whiskey types, there are several ingredients you can use to make whiskey. For instance, malted barley is used primarily in malt whisky while corn whiskey is more associated with Tennessee whiskey.

    There are several other types of whiskey including:

    • Tennessee whiskey (a type of bourbon typically aged with filtered maple syrup, specifically Jack Daniels)
    • blended whiskey (whiskey blended from different distilleries)
    • malt whiskey (produced from mash that consists of at least 51% barley)
    • grain whisky (whiskeys made from any type of grain)
    • ​Japanese whisky (bottled in Japan, but not necessarily aged there)
    • corn whiskey (made from mash consisting of at least 80% corn and unaged)
    • ​Canadian whisky (produced and aged in Canada for at least 3 years)
    • ​bourbon whiskey (made from corn mash and aged in new charred oak barrels in Kentucky)
    • rye whiskey (made from mash consisting of at least 51% rye)

    Whiskey Production

    To begin the production process, you’ll need fermented grain which can include corn, barley, and rye. Most alcohol production begins with the fermentation process. 


    This usually takes place in a distillery. Distillers have their own rules and guidelines they must follow. For instance, single malt whisky uses only a single distillery. At single distilleries, pot stills are primarily utilized.

    The distillation process can be greatly different depending on a variety of factors. For instance: 

    • The United States only allows whiskey to have a total amount of 2.5 percent additives and flavor. 
    • Single barrel whiskeys use an individual cask.
    • Casks and barrels come in different options such as white oak casks.
    • Bourbon must be aged a minimum of 2 years to be known as a “straight bourbon.”
    • Single malt scotch is made at a single distillery using only water and malted barley.

    Aging Process

    After the distilling process takes place, the whiskey must then be aged. In order to do this, the whiskey is typically placed in a wooden cask for a certain amount of time. 

    Once that time has passed, the whiskey undergoes a bottling process. Once finished, the whiskey will contain a minimum of 40% alcohol by volume (ABV)

    Alcohol content is carefully measured at each distillery. 

    To learn about alcohol treatment programs, please contact us today.

    Whiskey FAQs

    What’s The Difference Between Bourbon, Scotch, & Whiskey?

    Bourbon and scotch are both types of whiskey. 

    Whiskey is a hard liquor that’s produced in distilleries by using fermented grains. Bourbon must use at least 51% grains and is aged in new charred oak barrels while scotch uses oak casks for the aging process. This causes a distinct smell and taste for both. 

    There are a variety of whiskeys that are produced in various parts of the world. They each have specific distilling techniques and aging processes that create unique flavors and sub-types of whiskey.

    Learn more about Bourbon Vs. Whiskey Vs. Scotch

    How Much Alcohol Is In Whiskey?

    Whiskey is made at a minimum of 40% alcohol by volume, or 80 proof. However, it may be produced at 50% ABV or even higher.

    Learn more about Whiskey Alcohol Content

    Is Whiskey Dick Real?

    Yes, alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction is a real thing. 

    In fact, overconsuming alcohol can cause both short-term and long-term sexual dysfunction in men.

    Learn more about Whiskey Dick

    Is It Harmful To Drink Whiskey Neat?

    Drinking whiskey neat can be as harmful as drinking any other type of alcohol. If you are allergic to grains like corn or rye, drinking whiskey made from these grains can cause an allergic reaction.

    Learn more about Drinking Whiskey Neat

    What Does Whiskey Taste Like?

    The taste of whiskey depends on where it’s made, what it’s made of, and how it’s processed. The flavors can be drastically different, ranging from spicy and smoky to notes of vanilla, honey, and oak.

    To learn more, read What Does Whiskey Taste Like?

    Is It Beneficial Or Risky To Drink Whiskey Every Day?

    Moderate consumption of whiskey (3oz/day for men and 1.5oz/day for women) is believed to provide some health benefits, though any further consumption reverses these benefits and can lead to severe negative health effects.

    Learn more about Drinking Whiskey Every Day

    Is It Safe To Drink An Entire Fifth Of Whiskey?

    It is not safe to drink an entire fifth of whiskey at one time. Drinking a shot or less per day is considered moderate drinking, but drinking an entire bottle of whiskey at one time or in a short period of time is considered binge drinking or heavy drinking.

    Learn more about A Fifth Of Whiskey

    Are There Health Benefits Associated With Drinking Whiskey?

    There are some potential health benefits of drinking whiskey in moderation. Whiskey does not contain fat or carbohydrates and is a low-carb drink filled with antioxidants. 

    Whiskey may also increase good cholesterol and help prevent heart disease, as well as lower your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Keep in mind, however, that drinking whiskey in excess poses serious health risks.

    What Is Whiskey Nose?

    Whiskey nose is a colloquial term used to describe the medical term rhinophyma, which is a condition that causes a person to develop a large, bulbous nose. Those with rosacea and white males are most likely to develop this red, big nose. 

    It’s also possible that the term whiskey nose is used due to the term nosing, a process where one sniffs their whiskey to smell the specific flavor. 

    Learn more about Whiskey Nose

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Alcohol FAQ
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Alcohol Use and Your Health
    National Institutes of Health - Facts about Whiskey
    National Institutes of Health - Multielemental Analysis of Various Kinds of Whiskey
    National Institutes of Health - Worldwide Production and Use of Alcoholic Beverages

    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
    on August 20, 2022
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