I was reading the articles about how beer and whisky are made:



It occurred to me that beer and whisky are basically the same? The only difference is the alcohol concentration, basically whisky has a distillation step to concentrate the alcohol?

It's a surprising find to me. Did I miss something?

  • Both beer and whiskey start with water. Does that mean beer, whiskey and water are basically the same thing?
    – Eric S
    Jul 14, 2023 at 15:40

3 Answers 3


Whisky is a distilled spirit from (a usually hopless) beer that is then matured for a certain amount of time in wood. Time, wood type, and grains used in the beer depend on the local laws of whisky production.

But no, beer and whisky are certainly not the same.


Three considerable differences, at a macro level:

  • The "beer" which goes into a typical whisky is not really drinkable. It isn't brewed for taste - it is brewed for properties which will produce a good whisky.

  • Going from a low alcohol liquid like beer to a spirit requires distillation. This process doesn't just increase the alcohol concentration, it removes a lot of the compounds of the initial liquid.

  • The raw spirit distilled isn't whisky at this point, in fact it could be made into various things. What makes it whisky is then the maturation process in wooden casks for years, during which compounds leach from the wood giving the whisky colour and flavour.

The two are basically entirely different, other than being liquids.


Beer is related to whisky the same way that wine is related to brandy.

If grains are fermented to produce a low-alcohol beverage, it is beer. If grains are fermented and the resulting product (which is not meant to taste good for drinking) is distilled, and the high-alcohol distilate is aged in oak barrels that have been burnt inside, the result is whisky.
(If one cares only about the alcohol content and so doesn't bother to age it, the product is "moonshine" or "white lightning".)

If fruit is used rather than grain and the barrels are not burnt, the corresponding products are wine and brandy.

  • 1
    Why has this answer been downvoted? Is it inaccurate? Sep 20, 2023 at 7:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.