Category Archives: Whiskey

Bourbon or Scotch: Which is More Popular in the U.S.?

What’s more popular? Bourbon or Scotch??

That’s the age old question, and although both are whiskey, they do have their differences. It would be a different survey result, if you spoke to people in Scotland, versus talking to people in Kentucky. Two people, who are best friends, and who do not mind sharing a flask with one another, can actually have a taste test, where they fill one flask with Bourbon, and the other with Scotch, and they can each have a few drinks throughout the afternoon or night, from both, and see which they like better.

Regarding which drink is more popular, however, it’s really quite location-specific. There are places in the world, specifically in the U.S., where Bourbon is preferred. However, there are also many places in the U.S. where scotch is preferred. In general, each region of the world has their own popular national drink. In Russia – vodka, in Moldova – boza, and in China – baijiu. So regarding which drink is more popular, first we need to determine what global region we’re speaking about. For all intents and purposes, let’s stick to focusing on the U.S.A.

Bourbon Bottle by Sam Ley

Photo Credit: Sam Ley

In general, spirits and wine consumption in the U.S. has increased, while beer consumption has decreased. Vodka dominated the spirits market in 2012 with 34.1% of total spirits sales in the U.S. Rum came in second with 13.1% and American Whiskey (the category which includes Bourbon) came in third with 10.4% of market sales (a 3.4% growth from the previous year). Scotch Whisky conquered only 4.2% of the market in 2012 (a meager 0.2% increase from 2011). Jack Daniels and Jim Beam both appear in the top 10 selling spirits from 2012, while not a single scotch whisky brand made it into the top 25.

So just by taking a close look at the data, it’s apparent that Bourbon is a far more popular drink in the U.S. than Scotch Whisky.

Data in this article was referenced from the Mike Ginley’s presentation on Alcohol Trends at the U.S. Beverage Alcohol Forum and the Beverage Information Group. Click here for more information.

Top 5 Drinks Served at College Parties from the Best Party Schools

Belushi in Animal House

The Legend

College students have always been known to be a party crowd, and there are many reasons for this phenomenon. Part of the reason is because they just recently became “old enough” to drink, and they are testing the waters with their new found activity. Others are away from home, and their parents, for the first time, and they “go wild.” Others succumb to peer pressure, and since their friends and fellow classmates are partying, they do not want to be considered “square,” or “uncool.” And thus the concept of college parties thrives and grows each and every year.

Whatever the reasons, when college kids drink, they often gravitate to the same drinks, over and over. Let’s take a few of the top drinks found at college parties across the country, from the most reputable ivy league universities to the best party schools.

1. Beer

Still the most common, most available, easiest drink to buy, transport, and keep cold, beer is easily the most popular at college parties. Even kids who don’t really drink, or don’t really like to drink, can slowly nurse a beer, and hold the can in their hands, for hours, so no one will know they’re not really a drinker.

2. Rum & Coke

Very popular, probably because, (A) most people like Coca-cola, (B) rum is a sweeter liquor than some others, and (C) it rolls off the tongue when ordering… “I will have a Rum & Coke, please.” By the way, Rum, Coke, and a twist of lime, is a Cuba Libre. Some people carry the rum in a hip flask, then pour some into an iced glass of Coke.

3. Long Island Iced Tea

Mixing Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Triple Sec, with sour mix, and a splash of cola, gives the appearance of “real” iced tea, and the flavors blended together actually make it delicious, and a drink that “goes down easy.” However, the mixture of all of these, and having one too many, can certainly send a college girl into the corner with a camera man, and have her end up on a DVD sold on late night infomercials or in an advertisement in the back of a men’s magazine. Male or female, the indulger is sure to wake up with one heck of a hangover!

4. Frozen Daiquiris

These are often called “kiddie drinks” because the fact that they are sweet, blended with ice, and have the consistency of a “milk shake.” These traits make frozen daiquiris easy to tolerate for people who are not likely to drink a traditional martini or a shot of scotch. Of course, you cannot put one in a hip flask, but the hip flask crowd does not drink these, anyway.

5. Jägermeister

Don’t ask me why, but college kids love this drink. It almost tastes like a cough syrup, or a freshly mowed lawn. It is a German 70-proof (35% abv) digestif made with 56 herbs and spices. It is the flagship product of Mast-Jägermeister SE, a company headquartered in Wolfenbüttel, south of Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany.

College kids in the USA, often refer to it, with a word that sounds like they’re saying Yeager, pronounced like Chuck Yeager, the famous American pilot. A shot glass of Jägermeister dropped into a glass of Red Bull energy drink makes a cocktail called a Jägerbomb. Highly recommended if you want to impress your friends with your projectile vomit skills.

At, we’re pretty set on our whiskey and bourbon, especially because of their inherent relation to hip flasks. But, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what drinks you like to party with!

What Is Moonshine? Is Moonshine Illegal? – The Famous Illegal Drink of Yore

Moonshine Still

Moonshine Still
Photo Credit: Christophile Konstas

Moonshine is a high-proof distilled spirit, usually produced illegally and illicitly, and it has also been called; white lightning, hooch, mountain dew, and Tennessee white whiskey. The word “moonshine” is derived from the term “moonrakers” which was used to describe the early English smugglers, who did things “by the light of the moon.” Because the nature of their operations were illegal, these Appalachian distillers produced and distributed homemade whiskey in a clandestine manner. Early versions of flasks were sure to sometimes conceal this illegal and sometimes extremely potent drink.

Poorly produced moonshine would sometimes become contaminated, mainly from materials used in construction of the still, such as used car radiators. This made it dangerous to drink moonshine, in days of old, because it was subject to mistakes and such. Alcohol concentrations above 50% alcohol by volume (100 proof) are flammable and dangerous to handle. This is especially true during the distilling process when vaporized alcohol might accumulate in the air to high levels of dangerous concentrations if adequate ventilation has not been provided. There were sometimes accidents, and they were not pretty.

Moonshine Jug

An empty moonshine jug down by the lake. Looks like someone had fun 🙂
Photo Credit: Mike Trainor

A common safety test in the old days, was to pour a small quantity of Moonshine into a spoon and set it on fire. The theory was that a safe distillate will burn with a blue flame, but a tainted distillate will burn with a yellow flame. Folk practitioners of this simple test also believed that if a radiator coil had been used as a condenser, then there would be lead in the distillate, which would give a reddish flame.

Moonshine has been made all over the world, and has been called by many other names in other countries. During prohibition, people outside of the southern states commonly made something called “bathtub gin.” This was another beverage often associated with flasks in the 1920s.

Recently relaxed liquor laws have allowed the once infamous, illegal moonshine to be produced and sold through regulation in many areas of the U.S. A great article from Time magazine provides insight into the fact that even bigger name distilleries are now trying to get in on the moonshine action! Additionally, the Discovery Channel ran a special docudrama called Moonshiners about the life of moonshine makers. The show is highly informative and recommended for those who want to gain more insight into this interesting alcoholic beverage. The following clip explains the basic components of a moonshine still:

Although we don’t regularly imbibe this potent southern elixir, it’s nice to have a stash around for special occasions. And, of course, our preferred method of toting it is in a fresh, clean stainless steel flask, although many store it in big moonshine jugs. However you like it, make sure to drink your moonshine with friends because (a) what’s alcohol for, anyway, and (b) you’ll have each other there to make sure you don’t do anything too irrational while under the influence. Either that or you’ll egg each other on to do some of the dumbest things you’ve ever done. So, as we always say, drink with extreme caution, especially your moonshine!

Bourbon vs Whiskey: What’s the Difference Between Scotch Whisky and Bourbon?

Before we jump into the details, the first thing we need to address is the fact that both Bourbon and Scotch are *TYPES* of Whiskeys. You would be surprised how many people say “brandy” when they really mean “bourbon” and how many people say “whiskey” when they really mean “scotch.” We’re not knocking them, of course. Many things in life are confusing when you don’t understand the basics! We’re here to educate, so that’s what we’ll do!

Although Bourbon is a type of whiskey, as is Scotch, there are some major differences that need to be stressed.

Bourbon at the Bar

Photo Credit: Keith Garner

Bourbon gets its name from Bourbon County in Kentucky where it first originated. Bourbon tends to be amber-colored, and a little sweeter and heavier in texture than some other whiskeys. According to a strict set of laws, in order for a whiskey to earn the label of being called “bourbon” it must abide by the following guidelines:

  1. It must be made in the U.S.A.
  2. It must be made made from at least 51% and no more than 79% corn.
  3. There are no aging requirements for bourbon.
  4. If Bourbon is aged for a minimum of two years, and it does not have added coloring, flavoring, or other spirits, it may be called straight bourbon.
  5. The barrels for aging bourbon can be made of any kind of new oak, charred on the inside. These days, most distillers use American White Oak because it’s porous enough to help the bourbon age well.
  6. It must be distilled at no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume).
  7. Nothing can be added at bottling to enhance flavor or sweetness or alter color.
  8. The only other grains used to make bourbon are malted barley and either rye or wheat.
Whiskey Bottles

Photo Credit: Hamish Rickerby

Scotch whiskey, on the other hand, often simply called “Scotch,” is malt whiskey or grain whiskey made in Scotland, where it originated. All Scotch whiskey was originally made from malt barley. Commercial distilleries began introducing whiskey made from wheat and rye in the late eighteenth century. Unlike Bourbon, all Scotch whiskey must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years!

There are two basic types of Scotch whiskey, from which all blends are made:

  1. Single malt Scotch whiskey, which means a Scotch whiskey that was produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by batch distillation in pot stills.
  2. Single grain Scotch whiskey, which means that it is a Scotch whiskey distilled at a single distillery but, in addition to water and malted barley, the whiskey may involve whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals.

Here are the three types of blends for Scotch whiskey:

  1. Blended Malt Scotch whiskey; a blend of two or more single malt Scotch whiskeys from different distilleries.
  2. Blended Grain Scotch whiskey; a blend of two or more single grain Scotch whiskeys from different distilleries.
  3. Blended Scotch whiskey; a blend of one or more single malt Scotch whiskeys with one or more single grain Scotch whiskeys.

Furthermore, Scotch Whiskey can age in used barrels. But bourbon must use NEW charred American white oak barrels, by law. Scotch whiskey often recycles barrels initially used for distilling bourbon. Probably to try to steal some of the bourbon’s flavor! Additionally, Bourbon is an “all-American” liquor. In 1964, under President Lyndon Johnson’s administration, Congress declared bourbon to be “America’s Native Spirit.” Seems like LBJ loved his bourbon!

Whether you enjoy a stiff bourbon or a smooth, mature scotch, make sure you know what your’re drinking and be sure to educate others as well. After all, sharing is caring :).

Whiskey Barrels: The Delicate Art and Science of Delicious

Whiskey is an alcoholic liquor distilled from grain, such as corn, rye, or barley, which has been mashed and allowed to ferment, and containing approximately 40 to 50 percent ethyl alcohol by volume. The process by which whiskey is made, is a time consuming task, and it is typically aged for long periods of time in wooden casks or barrels, which are generally made out of charred white oak.

Whiskey Tasting

Photo Credit: Neil Wilkie

There is a whole science to the making of whiskey, and the process takes a long time. If you visit a website of a big company, such as Jack Daniels, you can spend hours reading and learning about the fascinating ways in which whiskey is made, not to mention, the many types of whiskey that are created.

The earliest records of the distillation of alcohol are in Italy in the 13th century, and it spread to Ireland and Scotland in the 15th century. James IV of Scotland (r. 1488–1513) reportedly had a great liking for Scotch whiskey, and in 1506 the town of Dundee purchased a large amount of Scottish whiskey from the Guild of Surgeon Barbers, which held the monopoly on production at that time.

The distillation process of whiskey was still in its infancy back then; and whisky itself was not allowed to age, so as a result, it tasted very raw and brutal compared to today’s delicious, smooth versions. The whiskey of the Renaissance-era was also very potent and not diluted. Over time whisky evolved into a much smoother, more enjoyable drink.

Oak Barrel

Photo Credit: Marie Richie

Whiskey aged in oak barrels absorbs substances from the wood itself. Cis-3-methyl-4-octanolide, also known as the “whisky lactone” or “quercus lactone,” is one of these substances. This “whiskey lactone” compound is known to have a pungent coconut fragrance and is characteristic of most high quality whiskey barrels.

The “age” of a whiskey is only the time between distillation and bottling. This aging process reflects how much the cask or barrel has interacted with the whiskey, changing the chemical makeup and taste of the finished product. Whiskey does not mature or age, in the bottle. And…in the flask, it is sure to be gone in no time!