Scotch on the rocks. A classic. But what whisky counts as Scotch?

Well, no surprises here: to be classified as Scotch, a whisky must have been made in Scotland.

But that’s not all. (Don’t worry, this isn’t turning into a TV infomercial!).

There are quite a few technical specifications that a whisky has to meet to qualify as a Scotch. I’m not going to go into all of them. That’s what the Scotch Whisky Association is there for, and you can visit their website for the details if you’re interested in the nitty-gritty.

If you don’t want to sift through the technical stuff, here are the other two criteria that may interest you: the whisky has to be matured in an oak cask for a minimum of three years, and it has to have an alcohol content of at least 40%. The rest of the criteria you can leave to the distillers. They know what to do with the information!

Lastly, a tip for when you visit Scotland… we don’t refer to Scottish whisky as Scotch here when ordering it in a pub! That’s how we tell who the outsiders are. If you want to fit in, simply ask the barman for a whisky, or, if you know what you want, ask for it by either the brand name (e.g. Chivas Regal) or by the name of the distillery (e.g. Glenfiddich).

Want some more funky fundamentals? Click here to return from Scotch On The Rocks? to the Whisky Basics page.