If your whisky knowledge is a bit dram, we’ve curated a guide to the top fun whisky facts you need to know!

Whisky, it’s the golden-brown liquid that’s a favourite choice of tipple to many.

Whether you classify yourself as a purist and enjoy nothing more than a dram on the rocks, or whether you’re new to the scene and enjoy it mixed in a cocktail, we’ve got a lesson worth learning.

So, if you want to learn more about one of the world’s most popular spirits, read on through as we shake up your knowledge with an ultimate guide packed with six fun whisky facts!


1. All Bourbon is Whisky, but not all Whisky is Bourbon.

Confusing, we know. We are also sure you have heard this saying before, so here is an explanation:

Whisky is made by fermenting grain mash, which may include wheat, barley, corn or rye. This mash is then fermented in wooden barrels and can be given different features dependent on the barrels hence why some whiskies are coined as American or Japanese.

Bourbon is made with the same process, but with some specific details that make it become bourbon.

First and foremost, bourbon has to be made in America, and with 51% corn as the main ingredient. It also must be aged in new oak-charred barrels, with specifics of the proofing levels of the liquid throughout the process.

So there you go, all bourbon is a form of whisky, but not all whiskies are bourbons.

2. Smell your Whisky before you taste it.

If you are a whisky connoisseur, you probably already know this, but a lot of the flavour of a whisky comes from the way that it smells.

Enjoy its aromas and give yourself time to take in its scent before tasting it. You’ll be surprised what you can smell. What you smell widely varies dependent on the individual, but generally you would smell some hops, sometimes spices and different fruits or flavours such as vanilla and pear.

3. What does the word Whisky mean?

Here is an interesting (and ironic) one, especially if you’ve woken up with a whisky induced hangover.

The word whisky translates to ‘water of life’. Yeah, we know, weird right?

It traces back to the Medieval Latin phrase “aqua vitae.” Basically, the first people to make distilled spirits, way back in the 15th century, used the term when searching for a source of immortality and the word has morphed through the times as the Scots had their take on the term “aqua vitae” which has become the term that we know as whisky.

4. Whisky from Japan

Japan’s whisky market is truly booming. There is an increasing number of popular Japanese breweries producing some incredibly high-quality whiskies and they are being celebrated around the world.

Next time you go for a drink after work, why not ask for a Japanese whisky? Generally, brands such as Karuizawa and Yamazaki Peated produce a delicious, blended mix.

The blended concoctions are a combination of single malts, and in the past blended mixes have generally been seen as inferior – it is clearly not the case with these quality Japanese whiskies.

Another thing to note is that generally the Japanese like to enjoy their whisky in a highball glass, with ice and soda water.


5. Whisky or Whiskey. How do you spell it?

This one is nice and simple. If you are from America and Ireland it is whiskey. However, if you are from almost anywhere else in the world, you spell it as whisky.

6. How should you drink your Whisky?

Generally, your average whisky drinker will have it neat, meaning on its own in a short glass.

According to many experts the best way to truly enjoy your whisky is to allow the taste buds to experience the flavours and aromas by serving it with a small dash of water. This is to remove the numbing feeling of a strong alcohol. The best water to serve is soft still spring water as normal tap water has chlorine in it that may spoil the flavours.

After you’ve read our fun facts about whisky, try something local with this guide to the Best Australian Whisky for 2024. Or, enjoy a dram at a local speakeasy with this guide to the 12 Best Whisky Bars around Australia.

Feature image: Photographed by Ambitious Studio. Image via Unsplash.
This article was first published by Tom Sargeant on February 14 2019. It was updated and edited by Hunter and Bligh on May 27 2024.