The World of Whisky or Whiskey – Part 1


The World of Whisky or Whiskey – Part 1

Bar None

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between whisky and whiskey? If your answer is yes, then over the next two weeks you will definitely be enlightened. To be called a 'whisky' or Scotch Whisky, this grain-distilled product has to be made in Scotland. If produced elsewhere, then the spirit is simply known as whiskey. In our feature this week, we will look at some of the whisky 'A-listers' across the world. We start the conversation with Scotch Whisky, then next week explore American Whiskey, Irish Whiskey, and some world whiskies.


Scotch Whisky

Scotland is home to over 120 malt and grain distilleries, making it the greatest concentration of whisky production in the world. The story of Scotch Whisky begins as early as the 15th century. The earliest documented record of distilling in Scotland occurred in 1494 in the tax records of the day, the Exchequer Rolls. An entry lists “Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae”. Friar John was in luck – this was enough malted barley to produce almost 1,500 bottles of a potent spirit which would be refined and improved in the years ahead.


Scotch Moves Out Into the World

During the 19th century, titans of the whisky world like James Buchanan, Tommy Dewar, Johnnie Walker and James Chivas took Scotch out of Scotland for the first time. Using their entrepreneurial spirit, they took whisky out to the British empire and far beyond, creating an enduring love of Scotch from Hong Kong to Hanoi, Sydney to San Francisco, Montreal to Mumbai, Bogotá to Berlin, Cape Town to the Cape Verde islands. The export markets they built are the cornerstone of Scotch whisky's success today.

A spot of luck also helped global expansion. In the 1880s, the phylloxera beetle devastated French vineyards, and within a few years, wine and brandy had virtually disappeared from cellars everywhere. Once again canny Scots were quick to take advantage. By the time the French industry recovered, Scotch Whisky had replaced brandy as the preferred spirit of choice.


Protecting Scotch Whisky in the Modern World

Scotch Whisky must, by law, be distilled and matured in Scotland in oak casks for at least three years and bottled at a minimum alcoholic strength of 40% abv. The robust legal protection of Scotch – vital to safeguard a spirit globally renowned for its quality – has grown over time. The first definition of Scotch Whisky in UK law was secured by 1933, with a dedicated Scotch Whisky Act in 1988 and new Scotch Whisky Regulations in 2009. These comprehensive rules govern the Scotch Whisky industry.


Whisky for the World

Today Scotch Whisky is enjoyed in 175 countries throughout the world. Each second, 41 bottles of Scotch are shipped from Scotland across the globe, helping to support tens of thousands of jobs in Scotland and ensuring that millions of consumers can enjoy a dram. A global industry, 500 years in the making.


Readers' Feedback:

Imagine if we embraced life's moments big and small, without reservation. Together, we might fill the world with contagious joy. Please share with meyour wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.


Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President – Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited




Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon