Whisky, whiskey, and bourbon all come with somewhat specific connotations and it is a good thing to keep your eye on to get an idea of where the bottle comes from and what to expect. Whisky generally refers to a bottle of Scottish origin, whiskey from Ireland as well as some places in north America, whereas bourbons are an American produced commodity generally from Kentucky or Tennessee but also other localities in the corn belt.
There are so many Scotch whiskies that Scotland is divided into several regions, these being Islay, Island, speyside, lowlands and west, east, and northern highlands. Loosely there are particular characteristics associated with each; Islay and Islands for example are normally peated as well as containing salty, and Iodine notes, whereas the speysides are generally softer with oaty notes. This is only a loose distinction, but a useful one when whittling down your buying options.
Most Scotch whisky is double distilled with some softer malts triple distilled, the Irish, however, tend to run the spirit four times and generally oven roast the barley giving no peat or smoke flavour. Bourbons, are in my view a different beast altogether, they are very rough, woody and if anything are a tad young for my liking. so rough is this drop that I know of few who can tolerate it and fewer still who drink it straight.
One oddball in the mix are the Japanese whiskies; the Japanese Love whisky and as such several very prestigious distilleries have cropped up, some even going as far as to import heather and peat from Scotland! There are also other minor distillates from around the globe, New Zealand has an amazing history in whisky production (I will delve into that in a later post), while India and some other middle eastern countries have also dabbled into whiskey production.
Personally I prefer scotch whisky; Islays and Island regions specifically, however, I have been surprised by a couple of bourbons and the occasional rare drop from far distant or local lands.