What is Whisky?
Whisky or Whiskey is a type of alcoholic beverage distilled from grains and matured in wooden casks. It is a worldwide spirit with many classes and types differentiate by the fermentation of grains, distillation and ageing in wooden barrels.
History of Whisky
Whisky, in general, has been known in several parts of Europe as “the water of life”. In Latin, “aqua vitae”; in French, “eau-de-vie”; in Scottish and Irish Gaelic, “uisge beatha” or “usquebaugh”. The Gaelic names, sounding to the English-speaker like “uishgi”, were corrupted to “whisky”. The first distilling of alcohol in Europe was in grape-growing countries which are believed to have been discovered in the Orient, to have been brought West by the Arabs, and introduced by the Moors into Spain where it was used in production of perfumes and medicines. Distilling seems to have been established in Scotland in the 1400s and by the mid-1700s, a distinction was made in Scotland between spirits flavoured with herbs and spices, and “plain malt”.
Whisky distillation process
Tasting note analyses the elements of whisky, guiding an individual in finding their own favourite character. It gives details of colour, nose, body, palate and finish for every bottle. Optionally, tasting is repeated with a small amount of room temperature water. With water, the fatty esters in the whisky will break apart, releasing the flavour locked within, changing its profile. Water should be added a few drops at a time to avoid ‘drowning’ the whisky.
Colour – The natural colour of a malt matured in plain wood is very pale yellow. Darker shades, ranging from amber to ruby to deep brown, can be imparted by sherry wood. Colour may give clues of the age of the whisky, however, some casks may be treated with concentrated sherry, causing a caramel-like appearance and palate.
Nose – Whisky should be sniffed from above the rim to start then gradually deeper into the glass to catch the full aroma. However, not advisable to inhale too deeply in case of burning from the fumes. The characteristics in the nose can move into the background of the palate and re-emerge in the finish by swirling the glass whilst warming the whisky in hand.
Body – Lightness or fullness might be required on different occasions, but body and texture are distinct features in the overall character of each whisky.
Palate – In the enjoyment of any complex drink, each sip will offer new aspects of the taste. It often starts with a little at first and then in larger amount allowing the whisky to move around the tongue and swallowed slowly. Every sip will gradually unfold a number of taste characteristics in different parts of the mouth. Some may taste it several times over a period of days, in search of its full character.
Finish – In all types of alcoholic drink, the finish” is part of the experience. The flavour of the whisky will linger on the palate and will change over time as the flavour decays in the mouth.
What is the difference between Le Malt Whisky, Blended Malt Whisky and Blended Whisky?
Single Malt Whisky is malt whisky produced in a single distillery, and not vatted or blended with whisky made in any other distillery. Blended Malt Whisky exactly the same as vatted malts, and it is a blend of single malts from two or more distilleries. Blended whisky is a mix of both malt and grain whiskies which sourced from several different distilleries.
What are Peated and Unpeated Whiskies?
Whisky can be classified into peated (smoky) and unpeated (non-smoky). The smoky aroma in whisky results from drying the malt over a peat fire. In contrast, the malt for unpeated whisky is dried with hot air without any smoke.
What is the difference between Whisky, Scotch And Bourbon?
It can be made anywhere in the world. Whisky sometimes refers as Whiskey which primarily from geographic differences. In the United States and Ireland, grain alcohols are referred to as whiskey, while in Canada and Scotland refer it as whisky. Scotch whisky is distilled and matured in Scotland, considered the homeland of this spirit. Bourbon must be made from a grain mixture which at least 51% corn. Much like how Scotch must be made in Scotland, Bourbon can only be labelled as Bourbon if it was made in Kentucky, United States. The spirit must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol (160 proof) and be no more than 62.5% when put into casks for ageing in new charred oak barrels.
Whisky Region and Typical flavours in Scotland
Highland – Fruit Cake, Malt, Oak, Heather, Dried Fruit and Smoke
Speyside – Apple, Vanilla, Oak, Malt, Nutmeg and Dried Fruit
Lowland – Grass, Honeysuckle, Cream, Toffee, Toast and Cinnamon
Campbeltown – Brine, Smoke, Dried Fruit, Vanilla and Toffee
Islay – Seaweed, Brine, Carbolic Soap, Apple, Smoke and Kippers
Island – Smoke, Brine, Oil, Black Pepper and Honey
How Should I Store My Whisky?
We recommend that you store your bottles of whisky out of the sunlight and in a cool and dry place. The whisky can last for 100 years or more if stored properly as whisky unlike wine, it does not mature in the bottle.