Types of whiskey

I’m working on a new type of whiskey chart based not on country of origin, but on the mash bill. Currently, many whiskey infographics confuse what a whiskey is made of, with where it is made. For instance, some diagrams contain a box called “Rye” (based on the mash bill), but also a box called “Irish whiskey” or “Scotch”, which actually tell us the geographical origin.

I’ve never found an infographic based solely on content. What you see here of course is just a quick, rough draft. After this chart is improved, I’ll need help from an actual graphic artist in making a visually appealing infographic.

Whiskey terminology and laws vary from nation to nation. This chart only means to show basic varieties by mash bill

Constructive feedback is appreciated. But please don’t say that “Scotch” isn’t listed; “Scotch” is just whiskey made in Scotland, from mash bills. This chart should show any kind of whiskey actually produced in Scotland (and if one is missing, please let me know,)

This diagram currently doesn’t show blends of whiskey. That may be added to future versions. It also deliberately will not show whiskey blended with other spirits (the infamous “American blended whiskey category.) Also, as the graphic indicates, it only covers whiskeys aged for a minimum of 2 years. Anything younger isn’t covered.

types_of_whiskey 7 26 2017



  1. There are a few mistakes in this diagram.
    Bourbon does not need to be aged for 2 years (only straight bourbon does), it can spend a few seconds in a new charred oak barrel and still be called bourbon in the USA. The same goes for rye and wheat whiskey – there is no mimimum age unless you want to call it ‘straight’ whiskey.
    If you’re only intending to show whiskey aged two years or older, then you should probably label the categories ‘straight bourbon’ or ‘straight rye’ whiskey, because that’s what the ageing gives you.
    I’m not sure where your ‘corn (maize) whiskey (in general)’ rules are coming from.
    I’ve also never heard of ‘Barley whiskey’ as a definition, do you mean ‘Malt whiskey’ (which is made with malted barley)? Like bourbon, wheat and rye whiskey above, malt whiskey does not have a minimum ageing requirement.
    Reference here: https://www.ttb.gov/spirits/bam/chapter4.pdf


    • I appreciate your comments! As the article notes, it only covers whiskeys aged for a minimum of 2 years. Anything younger isn’t covered. So I am full agreement with your thoughts about whiskeys vs straight whiskeys.
      “I’m not sure where your ‘corn (maize) whiskey (in general)’ rules are coming from.” – I’m not saying that this is a rule, I’m just showing possible mash bills. Some mash bills are more than half corn. Of course, bourbon is also more than half corn, but has a tighter very specific definition. So it is possible to have a corn whiskey that has more than 51% corn, yet isn’t bourbon. Same for barley whiskey – that’s just pointing out that one can make a whiskey with barley as more than half of the mash bill. (I just dislike calling barley whiskey as “malt” whiskey. All grains need, somehow, to be malted, in order to make whiskey, including barley, corn, rye, wheat, etc. Barley is just easier to malt, so in Scotland the name “malt” became synonymous with “barley.”

      “… malt whiskey does not have a minimum ageing requirement.”
      I totally agree. I’m just limiting this chart to whiskeys aged at least 2 years. Like Chuck Cowdery says, ” Straight whiskey (or straight bourbon, straight rye) is what most people mean when they just say whiskey.”



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