Wausau Pilot & Review

Spirits 101 is a weekly feature from Wausau Pilot & Review and Timekeeper Distillery. Each Friday afternoon, Dan Weber joins us for a journey through spirits and cocktails, and a deeper dive into the craft industry as a whole. If you have questions or ideas for future topics, be sure to leave them in the comments below the YouTube video. Watch the video and read Dan’s explanation for a better understanding of the craft spirits you enjoy. Cheers!

Whiskey: What’s the difference?

Spirits 101 is back this week and we are examining the difference in styles of whiskey. In short, whiskey is any fermented and distilled grain that is then aged in oak barrels. So if one were interested in making a “corn” whiskey, their recipe would need to be made with at least 51% corn to legally carry the term “Corn Whiskey.” The same goes for Rye Whiskey, Wheat Whiskey, or Malt Whiskey.

The next differentiator is going to be based on the process. For example, Bourbon Whiskey needs to be at least 51% corn aged in a new barrel. To be considered “Straight” Bourbon Whiskey, it needs to be aged for a minimum of two years. Blended Whiskeys are typically hand-selected barrels from a master blender or master distiller, and then blended together to create a specific whiskey profile they are looking for.

The last big category of distinction is going to be region-based. So Bourbon needs to be produced in the United States, Scotch needs to be made in Scotland, Irish Whiskey needs to be made in Ireland, and Canadian whiskeys (most famous for their blended whiskeys) need to be produced and bottled in Canada.

I hope this sheds some light on whiskey and the difference between the varieties you see.

Daniel J Weber
Head Distiller and Owner of Timekeeper Distillery