Scotch Whiskey Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

scotch whiskey

 Alexandra Shytsman / Verywell

Scotch whiskey is a distilled spirit made from the mash of malted barley and other cereal grains. Scotch whiskey must be made in Scotland to be sold under that name. Whiskey made in the United States is called bourbon. The word "whiskey" is also spelled differently in the U.S.; in Scotland, it's "whisky."

Scotch is fermented with yeast and aged in oak for a minimum of three years. Caramel coloring and water are the only additives allowed. It has an amber color and flavor that may be smoky and has notes of caramel, spice, orange peel, and vanilla.

When consumed in moderation, scotch whiskey may be included in a healthy diet.

Scotch Whiskey Nutrition Facts

The following whiskey nutrition facts information is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for one shot (42g or 1.5 ounces) of scotch whiskey.

  • Calories: 97
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0.42mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Alcohol: 14g
  • Iron: 0.017mg
  • Potassium: 0.84mg
  • Zinc: 0.017mg

Carbs

A single shot of scotch contains 97 calories, no carbohydrates, no sugars, and no fiber. Other types of whiskey provide the same number of calories and carbs.

Since scotch contains no carbs, the estimated glycemic index of scotch is assumed to be zero. The glycemic index is a relative ranking of food that estimates how the carbohydrates in food affect your blood sugar.

Fats

There is no fat in scotch.

Protein

Scotch contains no protein.

Alcohol

Scotch provides 14 grams of alcohol. Each gram of alcohol provides 7 calories. Therefore, all of the calories in scotch come from alcohol, assuming that is consumed neat or on ice.

Vitamin and Minerals

While there are trace minerals in whiskey, you will not gain any substantial micronutrients when you consume it.

Calories

One serving — 42g or 1.5 ounces — of whiskey contains 97 calories, most of which come from the alcohol content.

Health Benefits

A chemical analysis published in 2020 suggested that scotch whiskey has antioxidant properties. But there is no strong clinical evidence that antioxidants in scotch provide any benefit in humans.

There is minimal research investigating any specific health benefits associated with whiskey consumption.

There are a few studies that link moderate alcohol consumption with certain health benefits, but the amount of alcohol consumed makes a big difference. Additionally, the USDA does not recommend that adults who do not currently drink alcohol start drinking—even for suggested health benefits.

Allergies

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, there are reported cases of alcohol allergy. Symptoms may include rash, swelling, or throat constriction. If you experience any related or unusual symptoms after consuming scotch, talk to your health care provider for personalized advice.

Additionally, scotch whiskey is made from barley, a gluten grain. The distillation process results in a beverage that is considered gluten-free. However, some people with celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity may still react to alcoholic beverages distilled from gluten grains.

Adverse Effects

Even though moderate drinking may provide some benefits, there can be drawbacks if you drink too much. These should be considered if you choose to include scotch in your diet.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides information to help you understand how drinking can play a role in a healthy diet. According to the guidelines, moderate alcohol consumption can be incorporated into the calorie limits of most healthy eating patterns.

According to the USDA, if alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

A standard drink is considered to be:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of scotch, cognac, or distilled liquor (80 proof)

Health experts do not recommend that you start drinking if you don't currently drink. Alcoholic beverages are not a component of the USDA healthy dietary food patterns, so if you choose to consume alcohol, the calories in your beverage should be accounted for so that you maintain reasonable calorie limits.

Alcohol Use Disorder

One of the main adverse health effects of consuming too much alcohol is a condition called alcohol use disorder (AUD). The disorder can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe.

Signs of this condition include drinking more than you had intended, being unable to cut back, or continuing to drink despite problems in relationships. Binge drinking (4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in about 2 hours) or heavy alcohol use (more than 4 drinks on any day for men or more than 3 drinks for women) puts you at higher risk for AUD.

Increased Stress or Loneliness

Isolation and stress—including mass stress (stress experienced by a large community) are two factors that have been studied by researchers as they relate to alcohol consumption. It is possible that while isolation and stress may increase the compulsion to drink too much, over-drinking during stress or isolation may lead to increased anxiety and potentially increased loneliness.

According to George Koob, PhD, at the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the feelings of stress and anxiety may return and intensify following alcohol consumption and may further exacerbate the problem over time.

In studies published after the 9/11 attacks in New York City, researchers found that increased exposure to news about the attacks plus a past history of drinking problems predicted heavier drinking in the year after the event. Researchers also found that the intensity of exposure to 9/11 had long‐lasting effects, with greater exposure to the attack associated with binge drinking even five or six years later.

During times of social isolation, researchers noted that boredom, stress, and economic distress are key factors that can precipitate a recurrence of alcohol use disorder.

Scientists also know that long-term, heavy drinking can cause increased anxiety and a decreased ability to deal with stress due to the increased release of stress hormones. In stressful situations, a long-term heavy drinker may experience more anxiety than someone who never drank or who drank only moderately.

Isolation may also play a role in higher alcohol intake. Researchers also know that those dealing with substance abuse are more likely to experience stronger feelings of loneliness.

Reduced Immune Health

A study published in Alcohol Research Current Reviews reported that there has been an established association between excessive alcohol consumption and immune-related health problem such as an increased risk for pneumonia.

The study authors suggest that alcohol disrupts immune pathways that impair the body’s ability to defend against infection, contributes to organ damage associated with alcohol consumption, and impedes recovery from tissue injury.

Increased Risk for Heart Disease and Stroke

Published reports have shown that excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of premature death in the United States. Specifically, heavy alcohol use is one of the most common causes of reversible hypertension, it accounts for about one-third of all cases of nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy, it is a frequent cause of atrial fibrillation, and it increases the risk of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.

Compromised Bone Health

While there has been at least one study showing that light drinkers may have a decreased risk for bone fracture, most studies have associated heavy drinking with poor bone health.

In a large-scale research review conducted for NIAAA, experts advise that chronic, heavy alcohol consumption in women compromises bone health and increases the risk of osteoporosis. The effects are particularly striking in young people but chronic alcohol use in adulthood can also harm bone health.

Obesity

Alcohol provides no nutritional value and contains 7 calories per gram (as opposed to 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrate). So it is not a surprise that drinking is associated with unhealthy weight gain and obesity. But the dose matters.

Authors of one research study found that light to moderate alcohol intake is not associated with fat gain, but heavy drinking is more often related to weight gain. Researchers say that experimental evidence is mixed and moderate intake of alcohol does not lead to weight gain over the short term. But alcohol intake may be a risk factor for obesity in some individuals.

Contraindications

There are some people who should not consume alcohol at all—in any amount. For example, some prescription and over-the-counter medications cause drowsiness and should not be mixed with alcohol. Usually, a label on your prescription bottle will indicate whether or not alcohol consumption is safe when taking the medication. Check with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Additionally, health experts note that consumption of alcohol by pregnant women may serious health problems, known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) for the baby. These may include brain damage, as well as other lifelong complications.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Varieties

There are many different types of scotch whiskey. Varieties depend on how it is produced and the number of grains used to make it. For example, single malt scotch whiskey is produced in single batches from malted barley. Blended malts are those that contain more than one scotch from different distilleries.

When It's Best

Scotch whiskey is available year-round at liquor stores. Generally, whiskey is bottled and packaged after a minimum three-year aging process.

Storage and Food Safety

Always store scotch upright in a cool (59°F to 68°F), dark area away from sunlight, heat, and high humidity. It can be refrigerated but it will dull the taste. When unopened, scotch stays good for years.

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.