In the last five years, two things have grown in stature in the world of alcohol, whisky and Craft Beer.
In this post, we will focus on whisky from around the world as it is not just the Scottish and Americans making it now. The Japanese are going ahead in leaps and bounds as well as Australia and New Zealand.
So let’s clear up the words “whisky and Whiskey”
Whisky is the English/Scottish spelling
Whiskey is the interpretation from Scottish Gaelic into Irish Gaelic, which then was introduced by the Irish to the USA where they produce whiskey as well.
Japan, Australia and New Zealand use the spelling whisky.
The earliest historical reference to whisky comes much later, Mr J Marshall Robb, in his book ‘Scotch Whisky’, says: ‘The oldest reference to whisky occurs in the Scottish Exchequer Rolls for 1494, where there is an entry of ‘eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aquavitae’. A boll was an old Scottish measure of not more than six bushels. (One bushel is equivalent to 25.4 kilograms).
What are the main kinds of Scotch Whisky?
There are two kinds of Scotch Whisky – Malt Whisky and Grain Whisky. The Malt Whiskies are divided into four groups according to the geographical location of the distilleries in which they are made, as follows:
Lowland Malt Whiskies made south of an imaginary line drawn from Dundee in the east to Greenock in the west.
Highland Malt Whiskies, made north of that line.
Speyside Malt Whiskies, from the valley of the River Spey. Although these whiskies come from within the area designated as Highland Malt Whiskies, the concentration of distilleries and the specific climatic conditions produce a whisky of an identifiable character and require a separate classification.
The Isles, There are approximately 790 islands off the coastline of Scotland but only 7 make whisky including Skye and Jura
Islay Malt Whiskies, from the island of Islay.
Each group has its own clearly defined characteristics, ranging from the lighter Lowland Malt Whiskies to those distilled on Islay which is generally regarded as the heaviest Malt Whiskies.
Malt Whiskies, which differ considerably in flavour according to the distillery from which they come, have a more pronounced bouquet and flavour than the Grain Whiskies. The production of Grain Whisky is not so influenced by geographical factors and it may be distilled anywhere in Scotland.
SINGLE MALT vs GRAIN vs BLENDED
Single Malt: A single malt whisky is made at one distillery using only malted barley. They have the ability to capture the unique flavours of a region and most lovers of whisky appreciate a fine single malt whisky. Whilst the Scotts had a stranglehold on single malts there are new players on the block which include Australia and Japan.
Grain: This is the scotch that is made from grains that aren’t malted, this can include corn, barley, wheat or rye. This is where the bourbon’s (which must contain 51% corn) and rye whiskey (which must contain 51% rye).
Blended: This is where most people start their whisky journey with the more recognisable brands like Johnny Walker. Blended whiskeys are just that a blend of 60% single malt and 40% grain whiskey.
HOW TO DRINK WHISKY
Yes, the comments will come in in a glass but it is what glass and how just like wine there are different glasses for different ways to drink whisky.
If you talk to the purists this is the only way to drink whisky. This allows you to drink whisky as it was intended to be had.
As with rum whiskies first mixing choice should be with water. With the water at room temperature, it helps bring out all the aromas and flavours as well as the smoky flavour of some whiskies.
In front of an open fire and a whisky on ice, they go hand in hand. Reducing the temperature of the whisky can soften out some of the ash flavoured whiskeys
With Cola or soda, mixers are generally left for the blended whiskies and for those who are starting their journey into whiskey