Regardless of what spelling you use (whisky vs. whiskey), generally, whisky is a spirit made from fermented grain mash. The specific grain used, such as rye, wheat, barley or corn, depends on the final variety. Each type completely differs from the next because every country's regulations shape the production process. Scotch must be aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels, while U.S. bourbon is required to contain at least 51 percent corn and is aged in charred, new oak barrels. With all the rules, varieties and classifications, navigating the vast, complex world of whisky (and whiskey) can be difficult. Food & Wine's guide helps you discover more about what you're drinking with easy-to-understand information and delicious recipes.

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What Whisky from a Million-Dollar Collection Actually Tastes Like
Here's what it's like to take thousand-dollar sips from five decades worth of Dalmore Scotch.
New York Sour
The perfect balance of fruity red wine and smoky-sweet bourbon, the New York Sour cocktail is a classic for a reason. Shaking the cocktail with large ice cubes will chill the cocktail without diluting it—and those large cubes look great in a rocks glass, too. Be sure to pour the wine slowly over the back of the spoon to create the perfect float. If you're feeling adventurous, add an egg white to the shaker for a thicker viscosity.
The 9 Best Bourbons to Start Your Collection
The finest bourbons you can get without spending a fortune or camping out in front of a distillery.
Paris Between the Wars
With rich smokiness from the blended Scotch, rounded bitterness from Campari, and a tart bite from fresh lemon juice, this cocktail is well-balanced and refreshing.
The 10 Best Whiskies to Start Your Collection
Here are 10 whiskies we love, mostly affordable, from Scotland and beyond.
Bourbon-Tea Julep
Tannins from black tea add a beautiful hint of bitterness to Alexander’s twist on a classic mint julep. Oleo saccharum, also known as citrus oil, is made here by steeping lemon peels in sugar; its bright flavor is the perfect lift to finish each sip.

More Whisky

The First African American Woman Master Blender Is Here to End the White-Washing of American Whiskey
Victoria Eady Butler on launching a new career in whiskey thanks to her great-great-grandfather
Northern Standard
This drink is even better a Manhattan, thanks to three different bitter elements. Created by mixologist James Ives, the Northern Standard is a full-flavored cocktail that uses Knob Creek rye aged in charred barrels to balance out the richness of Carpano. Equally strong as it is smooth.
The Best Juleps for Your Derby Party

More than 127,000 juleps are served at the Kentucky Derby each year. You can make at least one.