What is Scotch? Learn What the Scottish Government Has Done to Protect This Treasure

What is scotch? To enthusiasts’ palates, it’s simply heaven. Nothing beats a lovingly crafted sip of scotch, from the woody reception up front to the release of flavors on the tongue, down to the warm embrace that chases every swallow. But only one type of whiskey can be called scotch, and what distinguishes it from its spirited cousins is a matter of history, geography, and tradition. Read below to learn all about this magical spirit.

Table of Contents

Scotch Whiskey
10Expert Score
Scotch Flavor Scale

Scotch has a robust flavor profile that varies drastically based on where it is distilled.

Earthy, Peaty
Floral, Nutmeg, Vanilla
  • Can Be Strong
  • Delicious
  • Can Be Strong
  • Can Be Expensive

About Scotch

Defining scotch is serious business. Indeed, the Scottish government has instituted legislation so there can be no mistake. First of all, the whiskey must be made in Scotland, from grains grown to where it’s fermented. It must be made from water, malted barley, and yeast. The strict legal regulations include items like aging, additive prohibitions, and the type of casks used for maturation.While there is some debate about where whiskey was invented, Scotch has a solid claim and a brand recognition that drinkers chase.

Frequently Asked Questions

All whiskeys are distilled spirits that come from a fermented grain mash. Popular types of whiskeys (including Scotch) you may have enjoyed include bourbon and rye. They are made the whole world over with a vast range of flavor profiles using everything from wheat to corn. 

The difference between the spellings “whiskey” and “whisky” is a matter of location. The Irish version includes the “e” while the Scottish drops the “e.” Most producers in the United States follow the Irish “e” spelling while Canadian, Japanese, and Indian distillers all side with the “no-e” Scottish version. On this page we spell it both ways to not take sides. 

  • Rob Roy
  • Rusty Nail
  • Blood and Sand
  • Good Father
  • Gold Mind
  • Scotch Sour

Scotch Whiskey Pairings

Classical 90%
Soft Rock
Soft Rock 91%
Folk 97%
Cheese 92%
Chocolate 93%
Cured Meats
Cured Meats 97%
Cannabis Strains
OG Kush
OG Kush 91%
Sour Diesel
Sour Diesel 92%
Northern Lights
Northern Lights 95%

Where Scotch Originates

Scotch Whisky: A Short History

2000 B.C

First known distillation in Mesopotamia, used for perfumes

2000 B.C

First known distillation in Mesopotamia, used for perfumes

13th Century

Earliest recorded distillation of alcohol happens in Italy.


First mention of Scottish distillation for “eight bolls of malt”.


First taxes impose on scotch leading to illicit distilleries


The Whisky Association is established, promoting the spirit globally


United Kingdom passes the Excise Act, opening hundreds of distillers to legitimacy


Scottish Whisky Regulations are ratified

Summing up Scotch

In a world full of whiskeys, there will always be those who prefer one type over another. Fans of sour mash concoctions may always favor their bourbons while diehard Irish distillers will continue to claim the origins of their elixirs. But no one can contest the power of the very name of scotch. This one word speaks to quality, tradition, and flavor like no other.

There’s no mistaking the strong, woody quality of good scotch, or the many peaty varieties that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. There’s a reason for this longevity, and it can be found right in the glass. For those who sip their stuff neat, deeply inhale the aromas, and slowly savor every swallow — there can be no mistaking this spirit’s unique qualities. And that’s what makes scotch, well — scotch!

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