What’s the Difference Between Scotch, Whiskey and Bourbon?

George Konig/Keystone Features/Getty Images
George Konig/Keystone Features/Getty Images

This might be common knowledge for some, but it's worth a refresher. Let's start with a burning question we answered back in 2008: what makes a whiskey bourbon?

The law. While knocking back a dram of bourbon is a decidedly carefree exercise, making it is exceedingly technical and requires that the whiskey meet a rigid set of criteria. The Federal Standards of Identity for Bourbon stipulate what is and what isn’t bourbon. For a whiskey to call itself bourbon, its mash, the mixture of grains from which the product is distilled, must contain at least 51% corn. (The rest of the mash is usually filled out with malted barley and either rye or wheat.) The mash must be distilled at 160 proof or less, put into the barrel at 125 proof or less, and it must not contain any additives. The distillate must be aged in a new charred oak barrel. (Most often these barrels are white oak, but they can be any variety of oak.) If you distill a whiskey in your kitchen that meets all of these standards, congrats, you’ve made bourbon. Also, you’ve broken the law; the ATF is probably outside your house right now.

The main difference between scotch and whisky is geographic, but also ingredients and spellings. Scotch is whisky made in Scotland, while bourbon is whiskey made in the U.S.A, generally Kentucky. Scotch is made mostly from malted barley, while bourbon is distilled from corn. If you’re in England and ask for a whisky, you’ll get Scotch. But in Ireland, you’ll get Irish whiskey (yep, they spell it differently for a little colour).

On this side of the pond, we have our own local color, too. The difference between Tennessee Whiskey, like Jack Daniel’s, for example, and Bourbon is that after the spirit is distilled, Tennessee Whiskey is filtered through sugar-maple charcoal. This filtering, known as the Lincoln County Process, is what distinguishes Tennessee Whiskey from your average Bourbon, like Jim Beam. The name, Bourbon, comes from an area known as Old Bourbon, around what is now Bourbon County, Kentucky.

On top of these types of whiskey, we also have Rye, which can refer either to American rye whiskey, which must be distilled from at least 51 percent rye or Canadian whisky, which may or may not actually include any rye in its production process. Confusing! Right?

Okay whiskey drinkers, did I miss anything crucial? Obviously there are tons of other, smaller differences depending on location and recipe, but that should cover you for when you need to impress the opposite sex at a bar some day.

Find the Best Wine to Pair With Your Favorite Halloween Candy

iStock/vadimguzhva
iStock/vadimguzhva

When you're a kid, Halloween is all about the candy. Unfortunately, the more sophisticated palate that often comes with adulthood can dampen the former thrill of a holiday that’s largely about cheap scares and even cheaper candy.

Thankfully, the folks at Vivino, a popular wine app, have found a way to help elevate the Halloween candy game (and with it, your joy). Their “Halloween Candy and Wine Matchmaker” pairs popular candies, from Skittles to Swedish Fish, with wine selections, to make sure your many treats complement one another.

As Vivino founder Heini Zachariassen told The Huffington Post, "Our candy and wine matchmaker is a fun way for our users to learn and talk about wine in a way that feels relatable and fun. Besides, Halloween is scary enough, we don't think picking a wine needs to be."

The best news of all? Many of the wines and candies have multiple pairing options—which means you can try out different flavor combos faster than you can say “trick or treat.”

Kalsarikänni, or Getting Drunk in Your Underwear, Is Finland's Version of Hygge

iStock/CatLane
iStock/CatLane

Hygge, the Danish term that loosely translates to "coziness," doesn't have an exact English equivalent, but that hasn't kept the concept from gaining an international following. It has even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary. Hygge has opened the world up to a whole universe of comforting concepts—often, but not always Scandinavian or Nordic in origin—that encompass the full breadth of amazing, underrated life experiences. Enter kalsarikänni, a Finnish term that we just learned about from The Guardian.

Kalsarikänni is the Finnish concept of taking off your pants and getting sloshed on your couch. The term roughly translates to "pantsdrunk" and means drinking at home, alone, in your underwear. Whereas terms like hygge or the Swedish lagom (meaning "just the right amount") imply a certain wholesomeness, kalsarikänni (here's how to pronounce it) celebrates an activity that is indulgent, selfish, and so, so satisfying.

Though the term involves staying home, you don't necessarily need to be totally alone to enjoy kalsarikänni. It can also be accomplished with a good friend, roommate, or partner. And while you can do it in your underwear, pajamas are also acceptable. It just has to be comfortable.

Take it from Miska Rantanen, whose new book, Pantsdrunk: Kalsarikanni: The Finnish Path to Relaxation, is all about the subject. (Its UK title is the more descriptive Pantsdrunk: The Finnish Art of Drinking at Home. Alone. In Your Underwear.) Here are the steps he suggests in The Guardian:

"Pack the fridge full of budget-brand artisanal beer, stock up on dips, crisps and chocolate—and make sure you have the latest psychological drama ready to watch on Netflix. When you get home, immediately strip off your outer layers of clothing (the basic rule: take off anything that's even mildly uncomfortable or formal). Dressing for pantsdrunk generally means undressing. Gradually you'll reach the most pleasurable moment of your striptease: the slow peeling off of your sweaty socks from your feet, a sensation that deserves its own Scandi expression. Now saunter to the kitchen and grab one of the cold beers from the fridge. Sink down on the sofa in your underwear and let out a deep sigh of relief."

Doesn't that sound wonderful? We know what we'll be doing tonight, that's for sure.

And yes, there is an emoji for it.

[h/t The Guardian]

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