Whiskey is a liquor made from distilled grains and aged in wood barrels. Like wine, whiskey adheres closely to a strict system of classification.
Aged in oak barrels, the malt and grain used to make the whiskey is often dried with peat smoke, lending scotch its distinctive, dark taste.
Scotch is a particular type of whiskey, which, first and foremost, comes from Scotland. It is made under very particular standards and protocols.
Irish whiskey is made in much the same fashion, but without the peat smoke.
American whiskeys are general made from corn or rye, and must be made without any additional coloring or flavoring. Charred oak barrels are used to age everything except "corn whiskey," which seldom sees any barrel aging.
Like wine, there is a new found interest among consumers around experimenting with the wide range of flavors found in whiskey. Whiskey bars have sprung up boasting menus listing hundreds of available whiskeys. Tasting nights are organized, to compare the different regional and producer styles. Like wine, there a range of flavor profiles within different types of whiskey, from floral to fruity to smokey. It can take effort to find what style you like best, but it is certainly fun to explore.