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Should it be Whiskey or Whisky?

Updated on September 16, 2013

Scotch Whisky is a drink to be enjoyed either on your own by a roaring fire, reading a good book with the snow falling steadily outside. Or sat with good friends reminiscing over past failures, successes or rambling anecdotes. Scotch Whisky is not a drink to be drank quickly, it is a drink that needs to be enjoyed over a longer period of time than most other spirits. It's make up is complex and your taste buds need to take in every hidden and obvious taste.

Scotch has more hidden nuances than most people give it credit for and needs to be served at the correct temperature to be fully appreciated. It is as subjective to it's environment as the higher level of vintage Red Wine's, and is often abused by the majority of people due to lack of Whisky education. Scotch has some of the snobbery attached to it's finer examples, but lacks the Wine brigades eccentricities and waffle. A good Scotch only needs silence and the quiet appreciation of the drinker.

A generous measure of Scotch Whiskey.
A generous measure of Scotch Whiskey. | Source

What is Scotch Whisky

Scotch Whisky is a spirit that is produced in Scotland and it's Islands. The Scottish and Canadian's use the term Whisky, where as the people of Ireland call their beverage Whiskey. A Scotch Whisky was traditionally distilled from Malt Barley, other ingredient's can be used such as Rye or Wheat and can still be classed as Scotch Whisky. The fundamental ingredient's in making a Scotch Whisky, is the need for it to be distilled in Scotland and for it to have been aged at least 3 years in Oak barrel's. Although any country can create and distill a Whisky, they cannot label, market or sell it as Scotch Whisky.

There are Five types of Scotch Whisky, and these are....

  1. Single Malt- Single Malt Scotch Whisky is a single malt whisky distilled in Scotland, with malted barley as the only grain ingredient.
  2. Single Grain- A Single Grain Scotch Whisky is produced by a single Grain distillery and is usually made from wheat, corn or barley that has not been malted.
  3. Blended Scotch- Blended Scotch whisky is the mixture of Single Malt's with grain whisky from different distilleries, to create a blend.
  4. Blended Grain- Blended Grain Scotch Whisky is a mixture of Grain Whisky from different locations in Scotland.
  5. Blended Malt- Is a mixture of Scotch Malt Whisky from different Scottish distilleries.

A wide selection of Scotch Whisky.
A wide selection of Scotch Whisky. | Source

The Origin's of Scotch Whisky

It is likely that the drink we know now as Whisky existed for many year's previous to it's first recording in writings from the 15th Century. The fermenting and distilling of Barley to make the whisky spirit could have it's root's in the culture of the Ancient Pict's and Gaels. The distilling of alcohol was known to many people from the time of the Ancient Babylonian civilizations, and this knowledge would have spread with trade and peoples migrations. The Irish Whiskey is said to have been introduced to Ireland by St Patrick and Scottish Christian settler's in around 500 AD.

There are many different Scotch Whisky brands available and every region of Scotland has it's own distinctive flavour and character. The more famous and highly regarded brands usually come from the small Islands that lie off the coast of the mainland. The distinctive tastes of the Scotch Whiskies take on the flavour of the spring water used and the Oak barrel's the whisky is stored in.

It is estimated that the production of Whisky and the distillery tours are worth million's to the Scottish tourist industry and the British economy. Whisky is a major industry in Scotland with nearly Twenty million barrel's of Whisky maturing at any one time. As the Whisky mature's about 2% of the Whisky evaporates, this is traditionally known as the Angel's share.


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