If you know me, you know I have a taste for whisky. My palate is slowly (ever so slowly and with much repetitive training) being refined and, more and more, I'm learning what I like and what I don't like. I have an affinity for Scotch, particularly two distilleries from the lowlands (Glenkinchie and Auchentoshan) and a few Highland and Speyside gems. I haven't, however, quite found my love for American whiskey...yet. But times, they are a-changing (I think there could be flirtatious tendencies buried deep down).
Before I get into that though, I think it's important to make sure we are all on the same page. Whisky or whiskey, however you choose to spell it, includes Scotch, bourbon, rye, and Irish whiskey. It can be made with all kinds of grains, from barley to corn to rye, and aged under a whole variety of different circumstances, but always in wood.
Anything labeled Scotch has to be distilled in Scotland and aged a minimum of 3 years in oak casks. Most single malts are aged 8 to 10 years, which means that you have to guess what the market is going to be doing, and what people are going to be into, 10 years before it actually happens.
Bourbon, rye, and corn whiskey are all American whiskeys. They each have different regulations. Bourbon must be made with a minimum of 51% corn and aged in new American charred oak barrels; rye must be at least 51% rye; and corn whiskey must be made with at least 80% corn mash. As far as I can tell there are no aging regulations, which means that American producers can do some really interesting things, and have a lot more freedom to react to the market. Add that to the fact that there is a less rigid expectation of what American whiskey is anyway, and people here are more open to trying different things (in my Scottish husband's opinion anyway).