Whisky at the most basic level is distilled alcohol produced from fermenting a mash of grain — or corn in some cases. Making it initially shares a lot similarities with beer, minus the addition of hops. It starts by steeping a mixture of grains in hot water. That process triggers the release of the natural sugars which are then converted by yeast into alcohol. The resulting beer-like substance, called “wort” in whisky speak, is then distilled and put into wooden barrels to age. The type of grains used in the recipe, the distillation method and the barrels the spirit is stored in are what create the main differences between Scotch, bourbon, Irish, Canadian whisky and other types beyond their country of origin.