DSCF0680-BOURBONJOEWhiskey is all the rage. Watered down or otherwise, we’re big whiskey drinkers. Not to brag or anything, but we were way ahead of the blade with the complete tutorial we gave you in our first book, Bitches on a Budget, but just in case you’ve forgotten the lesson, here is an abbreviated primer on all things whiskey. (Pay attention, we know it’s a lot, but just think about that next trip to the bar — soon, all those guys pretending they know whiskey will be weeping at your feet.)

Is it whiskey or whisky? American and Irish whiskey are spelled with an “e.” Scotch, Canadian and Japanese are spelled without an “e.”

Are Scotch, bourbon and rye all whiskeys? Yes. Whiskey is defined as a spirit made from a fermented “mash” of grain that is stored in a cask. Scotch refers to whisky produced in Scotland. Barley, corn and wheat (rye) are the main grains used for whiskey making. Bourbon’s main grain is corn. Rye’s, well, uh, is rye.  Historically, barley was the key component of Scotch and Irish whiskey, although, outside of single or blended malts, most sold today are a blend of grains (barley, corn, wheat).

What is a single malt scotch? Refers to a non-blended whisky, made in Scotland, from malted barley and produced at a single distillery. The Glenlivet, Highland Park, and Lagavulin are well known examples.

What is malted barley? Barley soaked in water to facilitate the conversion of starches to sugar, which is then dried over a heat source before grinding. Scotch barley is often dried over a smoky peat fire. Typically, Irish whiskey with barley is dried in a kiln without peat (be a show-off and order the famous Irish single malt whiskey using the peat method — the Connemara Single Malt).

What is the difference between bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye? Bourbon, although originally produced in Bourbon County, Kentucky, can be made anywhere in the U.S. To be labeled bourbon, it must be made with at least 51 percent corn and stored in new charred oak barrels. Tennessee whiskey is also corn based. Unlike bourbon, though, these whiskey’s can be made only in the state of Tennessee and utilize a sugar maple charcoal filtration system before storage that imparts a warm, sweet flavor.

While some high-end specialty bottles will set you back big time, you should be able to score your very own whiskey bottle that you’d be oh, so proud to show off — now that you know what you’re buying! Besides, every woman needs a bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey, Black Maple Hill bourbon, and for extra-special occasions, Glenmorangie Sherry Wood Finish single malt scotch, hiding in the back of some cabinet. On tough nights, it’s what women reach for.