Whiskey vs Gin

by X FLASKS October 31, 2016

Whiskey vs Gin

Whiskey and Gin are two of the most popular alcoholic drinks around. They’re versatile, delicious spirits that go great with an X FLASK. But do you actually know much about them? In this article we’ll go through a brief history of these two popular drinks, the similarities and differences between their manufacturing processes, and then we’ll suggest some of the best ways to drink each spirit. By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be the go-to person for all things whiskey and gin!

A little bit of history

The term ‘whiskey’ (or ‘whisky’ - with ‘e’ if it’s American or Irish, without ‘e’ if it’s Scottish or Canadian) comes from the Gaelic word ‘uisce’ or ‘uisge’ meaning ‘water’. In Latin, distilled alcohol was called ‘aqua vitae’ meaning ‘water of life’. The combination of these two things gives us the English word we use today. The production of whiskey can be dated back to the 15th Century in Scotland and Ireland. 

The term ‘gin’ comes from the French word genièvre’ and the Dutch word ‘jenever’, which both come from the Latin word ‘juniperus’ meaning juniper (the main ingredient in gin). The production of gin can be dated back to the 17th Century in England and The Netherlands.

Manufacturing process

Put simply, Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic drink made from fermented grain mash such as barley, wheat, rye, or corn and then aged in wooden barrels, usually made from white oak. The whiskey is strengthened in the barrels and the wood gives it its golden brown colour. Whiskey doesn’t age in bottles, so keeping a bottle for years does not affect its strength or taste, unlike other drinks such as wine.

Gin is also a distilled alcoholic drink made from fermented grain mash, however the flavour derives primarily from juniper berries. Whereas whiskey is aged in barrels to give it its flavour, after distillation gin is flavoured with juniper berries. The flavour of the juniper berries varies depending on which part of the world they come from, and using different types of juniper berries and different concentrations, different flavours of gin can be created.

Of course there are many different types of whiskey and gin which have slightly different manufacturing processes, but all follow the general processes we’ve described.

Now we’re going to explain how to make some of the most popular whiskey and gin-based cocktails around - take note! You’ll thank us.


Famous Whiskey Cocktails


A classic cocktail with many variations. Here’s our simple recommendation.


  • 50ml whiskey
  • 25ml sweet vermouth
  • 1-2 drops of Angostura bitters
  • 1 lemon
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Ice


Pour the whiskey, sweet vermouth, and angostura into a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir until the drink is sufficiently chilled. Strain into a martini glass. Run a lemon twist around the rim of the glass and then place it in the drink. To finish, add a couple of maraschino cherries. Enjoy!

A Manhattan

Old Fashioned

A very simple drink made the ‘old fashioned way’ (hence the name).


  • 60ml of whiskey
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few drops of Angostura bitters
  • Ice (optional)


If you like your cocktails cold, then pre-chill the glass by leaving it in the fridge/freezer for a while (adding ice will dilute the drink). Add the sugar and a teaspoon of water in which to dissolve it. Add the Angostura, followed by the whiskey. Gently stir your drink, and enjoy!

An Old Fashioned, with ice and optional orange twist


Famous Gin Cocktails


Another classic cocktail with many modern variations, most famously the tipple of James Bond.


  • 60ml of gin
  • 30ml of sweet and/or dry vermouth (we recommend half and half)
  • A dash of orange bitters
  • Ice
  • Olives or lemon slices


If you like your cocktails cold, then pre-chill a martini glass by leaving it in the fridge/freezer for a while. Add the gin, vermouth(s), orange bitters, and plenty of ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake or stir (wehey!) the mix until it’s chilled (shaking will break down the ice more, which will dilute the drink and reduce the ‘burn’ from the alcohol). Strain into the martini glass. Garnish with either an olive or a lemon slice, and enjoy!

A Martini

Tom Collins

The perfect refresher for a hot summer’s day.


  • 1 lemon
  • 4 teaspoons (20g) of brown sugar
  • 20ml of lemon juice
  • 50ml of gin
  • Cubed ice
  • Club soda or lemonade (your choice)


Cut a lemon in half, then cut one half into quarters. Squeeze 2 lemon quarters, add the brown sugar, the lemon juice, and the just-squeezed lemon quarters to a jug. Muddle/grind the ingredients together (to release the flavours). Pour this mixture into a mixing glass and add the gin and plenty of ice. Shake for approximately 20 seconds. Fill a tall glass with ice and some lemon pieces. Strain the mixture from the mixing glass into the tall glass. Top up with club soda or lemonade. Garnish with lemon slices. Enjoy!

A Tom Collins


So there you have it, our overview of Whiskey vs Gin. Which do you prefer? Let us know if you found this useful, or if you make any of these cocktails differently to us on Twitter at @xflasks.



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