Before moving to Las Vegas, I would drink either vodka with a mixer (cranberry, tonic, club soda) or beer. After a couple of years after moving, I decided to try an experiment to see if I liked any of the brown boozes that my friends enjoyed while I was swigging vodka drinks.
Whiskey was sworn off after drinking a brutal shot one night at last call after seeing Lemmy at the Rainbow one a very hazy night in LA. However, the desire to consume less liquid at the tables and make fewer trips to the restroom when gambling led me to try every whiskey, bourbon and scotch the casinos would comp while gambling on one trip. Thankfully, this test happened in an era when casinos offered a nice variety.
Little did I know that I found my brown booze of choice on that very Vegas vacation. After the week on the Vegas Strip, I tasted a few more high-end spirits and read up on the differences between the boozes and realized that scotch was my favorite. Macallan was and still is specifically the favorite brand of scotch. The Sherry cask makes it a unique and easy to drink scotch.
Since that initial experiment, I’ve continued to experiment with different brown boozes. I’ve learned that not all scotches are created equally, bourbon is a close second to scotch and whiskey isn’t something I’ll ever ask for on purpose.
Yes, there’s a difference between the three brown boozes. Let’s look at the basic differences between the three types of brown booze.
What is Whiskey? (or Whisky depending on where you’re from)
Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Each producer ages their grain mash in wooden casks. This is the granddaddy of the brown booze category. Everything else is essentially derived from whiskey.
The time the whiskey is aged, and the type of cask is what give different brands of whiskey a different brown color and taste. There are different types of whiskey that I won’t dive deep into. However, rye whiskey, malt whiskey, corn whiskey, or wheat whiskey might be to your liking.
There are also international types of whiskey from Canada, Ireland, Japan and other countries. The Asian whiskeys (i.e. Kavalan from Taiwan) are very easy to drink but often more expensive than Scotch or US-based bourbon.
Favorites: None, unless you consider Bulleit a whiskey
What is Bourbon?
Bourbon is very similar to whiskey except it must be made in America. In fact, bourbon is a type of whiskey. The main difference from whiskey is that the grain mash must be at least 51 percent corn. Additionally, the mixture must be stored in charred new oak containers for at least two years.
There are no additives allowed in bourbon beside the water. This means that there’s no artificial coloring, caramel or flavoring. Amazingly, bourbon has notes of caramel and vanilla. The reason I enjoy bourbon almost as much as scotch is because it tends to be slightly sweet.
Favorites: Woodford Reserve, Basil Hayden, Bulleit
What is Scotch?
Scotch is probably the easiest of the batch to describe. It’s essentially whiskey made in Scotland. It must be aged in oak barrels for three years. Like the other browns, there are different categories of scotch including single and blended malts.
Scotch tastes like bourbon but has a smokier flavor. The smoke and sherry cask barrel flavor work so well for Macallan that there’s really nothing like it and that’ probably why it’s uniquely my favorite of all the brown boozes.
Favorites: Macallan, Glenlivet, Oban.