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Whisky Glossary

Whisky Vocabulary:

Scotch: Whisky distilled and aged for a minimum of three years. The entire process, from distilling to bottling, must take place in Scotland for the final product to be labelled Scotch. Whisky: A distilled alcoholic drink made from a mash of grains or cereals. Single Malt: The whisky from a single distillery. Made exclusively from malted barley. A single malt is not to be confused with single grain or single barrel whiskies. Single Grain Whisky: As the name implies, these whiskies are made using only one type of grain for making whisky. If the cereal used is barley and no other grain is used then such whisky would be called a Single malt. Blended whisky: A blend of grain and single malt whiskies. Acording to very strict regulations, the addition of a single drop of grain whisky to (say) a barrel of single malt whisky is enough to 'turn' the contents into a blended whisky. Great examples of blended whisky are: Pig's Nose, Great King street, Johnnie Walker black and others. Whiskey: The most common spelling to denote the same style of drink as whisky. In some accounts, this way of spelling became popular in the 1960s. As American newspapers adopted the spelling with the 'e'. Single barrel: As the name implies, the whisky comes from one barrel. A single barrel whisky can be a single malt whisky if the contents of the barrel come from one distillery. Cask strength: This implies that the whisky was bottled straight from the barrel without the addition of water. When the new spirit is put into barrels to be aged its alcoholic strength is around 64%. Over time, alcohol evaporates and the strength is reduced. A very common thing to do is to add water to the whisky, in order to reduce it to its minimum strength (40%). Cask strength means that there was no water added to the whisky prior to botling it. New spirit: (Or 'New Make Spirit') Is the name, used in Scotland, of the distilled product derived from a mash of cereals or grains that has not been aged for the required legal minimum of three years. Blended Malt: (Formerly a Vatted Malt) The blend of two or more single malts. The sole addition of a teaspoon of, say, single malt A to a barrel of single malt B is enough to render the resulting product a Blended Malt. Great examples of Blended Malts are The Feathery, Old Perth No3 and Muckle Flugga. Wort: The liquid that results from steeping the grist in hot water. The solvent properties of water and the heat applied to the grist, extract the sugars needed to start the fermentation process that will give us some alcohol. Grist: The rough, flour-like product that results from grinding malted barley. Malted Barley: Barley that has been subjected to the malting process. Barley is steeped in water to trigger the germination process. This is done in order to extract the sugars from the barley. Wash: The liquid resulting from the fermentation of the wort. Once yeast is added to the wort, the fermentation process starts. After fermentation has taken place (anywhere between 24 and 96 hours) the resulting liquid, is ready to be distilled. This is called the wash. Independent bottlers: Individuals or companies that buy whisky from distilleries and bottle the whisky (right after buying or after a few years) under their own label. In some cases, the name of the distillery from which they bought the whisky is not disclosed and the whisky bears a unique name that does not mention the name of any distillery (i.e. 'Secret Speyside', Macphunn, Ileach, etc.) Reflux: When the vaporized particles condense within the still prior to reaching the condenser and fall back into the pot during ditillation. Peat: Organic matter that has partially-decayed. It is found mostly in wet areas where the constant appearance of water in upper levels of the soil, blocks the flow of oxygen to bacteria. This slows down the decomposition process and results in peat being formed. Mash-tun: A (massive) container, where the grist and (hot) water are mixed in order to extract the sugars from the barley. Most distilleries have a filter at the bottom of the mash-tun to retain the solid residue resulting from mixing water and the grist (the wort). One notable exception is Teaninich distillery, they have a completely different method for extracting the sugars from the grist. They use a mash filter press. Mash filter press: A device mostly used in breweries to extract the wort. The mash is squeezed between cloth plates and the wort is collected while the draff is discarded more effcicently. As of 2015, Teaninich is the only distillery in Scotland to use such device.
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