History: Scotland has a rich history of creating alcohol from grains, and Scotch evolved hundreds of years ago from distillation practices likely imported from Ireland. When British Parliament eased long-standing whisky taxes in 1823, modern Scotch production began to flourish

Specifics: Must be made of malted barley and water (whole cereal grains can be added) and matured in Scotland for at least three years in oak casks no larger than 700 liters

Where it's from: Throughout Scotland, most notably in five regions officially recognized by the Scotch Whisky Association - Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside

How it tastes: A smoky or peaty flavor often results from drying malted barley over peat fires

Common brands: Johnnie Walker, The Glenlivet, Dewar's, Glenfiddich