What is whisky?

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What is whisky?

What is whisky? Is a question that many people new to the world of whisky often ask. Broadly speaking, whisky is a spirit drink made from a fermented mash (called 'wash') of grains or cereals that can be produced anywhere in the world. The most common types of cereals used to make whisky are barley, wheat, rye and corn (maize) . Some countries (e.g. India) use  sugar cane molasses to make whisky. Every country regulates the quality and production of whisky locally. In Scotland, by law (Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009), whisky must be made from grains and/or cereals only. Our topic is one particular type of whisky: Scotch whisky, and more specifically, Single Malt Scotch Whisky. We will talk about 'whisky' whenever we refer to Scotch Whisky.

Five Scotch Whiskies

Scotch whisky has to be fermented, distilled, aged and bottled in Scotland for it to be called Scotch whisky. There are five types of Scotch whisky produced in Scotland, they are, Single Malts, Blended Malts, Single Grain, Blended Grain and Blended. Single Malts Are whiskies produced at a single distillery. These whiskies must be made from malted barley and must be distilled in copper stills. Most single malt whiskies available are the blend of several casks. When a single barrel is selected and bottled, this single malt becomes a 'Single Barrel of Single Malt Scotch Whisky'. Blended Malts Two or more single malts blended together. Some people consider them to be 'inferior' to single malts. This assumption is often wrong, great care goes into the blending of single malts from different distilleries. Several companies out there release only blended malts and they put lots of effort and great care when selecting what they consider to be the best ingredients. Single Grain Whisky A whisky distilled at a single distillery using malted barley and/or un-malted barley, and/or other grains or cereals. Most grain whiskies are distilled in column stills and the resulting spirit has a high alcoholic content. Blended Grain Whisky Two or more grain whiskies blended together and bottled for sale. There are few examples of blended grain whisky, the most common one is Hedonism by Compass Box. Blended Whisky Malt and grain whiskies blended together. This is, by far, the best selling type of whisky. Millions of cases of this whisky are sold every year around the globe. By the time you read this article several bottles of blended whisky would have been sold.

What about the flavour?

Generally speaking, grain whiskies will have a lighter, more delicate flavour and a more pronounced alcoholic palate. This is because most grain whiskies are produced using a column still. Grain whiskies get most of their flavour from the oak casks in which they're aged. By contrast, single malts often have more pronounced and complex aromas and flavours even when they are young.  This does not mean that one whisky is better or worse than the other; it simply means that they are both different in style.

How to drink whisky

The short answer to this question is: however you wish. The more elaborate answer is: there are two ways of drinking whisky, for enjoyment and for appreciation. For enjoyment, anything goes, add ice, lemon juice, tomato juice, enjoy it. If you're going to mix your whisky, go for a cheaper bottle. The choice is entirely up to you. Whisky drinking for appreciation is different. The glass is important, sherry copitas or Glencairn glasses are recommended. The broad bottom of the glasses allows the alcohol to breath. The narrower lip of the glass traps the esters and the aromas allowing the whisky drinker to appreciate the myriad of aromas present in Whisky.  No ice is recommended when appreciating whisky, why? Well, would you add ice to red wine? You don't want to 'close' the flavours. Try the whisky without water and then add a couple of drops of water and see how the flavours change. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/mk_page_section]
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