Alcohol By Volume (usually abbreviated as ABV) is the standard measurement of how much alcoholic content a beverage contains. For our ABV series, we’ll be entertaining our readers with stories on beers, spirits as well as the swankiest bars. Bottoms up!
Whisky or whiskey? That’s the question isn’t it? The two similar spellings is a point of much confusion and in some cases contention (serious whisky/whiskey drinkers are not to be trifled with).
As a general rule of thumb, the spelling whiskey is used for whiskies distilled in the United States and Ireland. For whiskies produced in the rest of the world (such as the hugely popular Japanese Whiskies), the spelling whisky may be safely assumed. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule – some American distilleries such as Maker’s Mark and Old Forester use the spelling whisky on their labels.
To make it even more confusing, let’s delve into scotch, bourbon, rye whisky and rye whiskey, which are some other varietals of whisky and whiskey.
The easiest and most prominent of these is scotch, which you’ve probably heard of. Strictly speaking, scotch is whisky produced in Scotland which uses mainly malted barley and is aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels. Within scotch itself, a variety of different regions in Scotland are known for different specialties and produces different styles of whiskies.
Bourbon is whiskey produced in United States which uses a grain mixture with at least 51% corn. The fermented grain mash is distilled at a maximum of 80% ABV and aged in new, charred oak containers at no more than 62.5% ABV proof. The end product has an ABV of 40%. No minimum aging period is required for most types of bourbon, with exception of straight bourbon which is aged for a minimum of two years.
Finally, we have rye whisky and rye whiskey which are actually two distinctive spirits. The term rye whisky is used interchangeably with Canadian whisky in Canada. The main ingredient of the mash used for most rye whisky is actually corn and the use of rye is optional. The spirit has to be aged for a minimum of three years in wooden barrels and bottled at minimum of 40% ABV in Canada.
Rye whiskey, on the other hand is produced in the United States. A mash with minimum 51% rye is distilled to no more than 80% ABV and aged at maximum of 62.5% ABV till it is ready to be bottled.