Welcome to the first (hopefully not the last!) edition of our weekly special called Whisky Wednesdays @ Boozeat! Each week, we’ll bring you interesting and awesome information about whisky – perhaps one of the world’s most recognised booze types – on the newly revamped Boozeat Blog 2.0.
For this first edition, we’ll give you our beginners’ guide to whisky. If you’ve always wondered what whisky was all about, then this mini crash course will set you straight on the right path.
‘Whisky’ or ‘Whiskey’?
Eagle-eyed boozers might have noticed that some brands spell it as ‘whiskey’ while others go for ‘whisky’ instead. We’ll cut to the chase and tell you that it really doesn’t matter how it’s spelt because the fundamentals are the same for all whiskies.
But if you really must know, the basic ruling to this is that distilled spirits from Scotland, Japan or Canada, is spelled as ‘whisky’. Distilled spirits from United States or Ireland, on the other hand, use the ‘whiskey’ with an ‘e’ spelling instead.
Fun Fact: Some say that the Scots spell whisky without the ‘e’ because they believed pronouncing more vowels wasted good drinking time (ba-dum-tsss).
What is Whisky?
Historians believe that the process of making whisky has been around since the 2nd millennium BC. In fact, the ancient Babylonians in Mesopotamia were thought to be one of the earliest (if not the first) to practice the distillation, followed by the Greeks sometime later in the 1st century AD before spreading further later on.
Today, whisky is defined as a type of distilled alcoholic beverage that’s made from fermented grain mash. These grains vary in type and may be malted. The usual norms of grains used are barley, corn (maize), rye and wheat, but whisky can be distilled from any type of grain such as quinoa and oats. Think of whisky as beer that’s been distilled two or three times
Fact: Beer is a technical term for whiskey wash.
After the harvested grains are mashed, malted and distilled, the ensuing product is stored and aged in wooden casks or barrels typically made of charred white oak over a period of time. Aging times and techniques vary between brands, but the desired results are roughly the same all across the board.
The simple yet informative video below will show you how whisky is typically made.
What types of whiskies are there?
Whisky comes in two main forms starting with Malt whisky that’s made from malted barley, followed by Grain whisky that’s made from any type of grain. Additionally, Malts and Grains are combined in any of the following ways as well:
Single Malt Whisky (i.e. Glenlivet, Singleton)
Whisky from a single distillery made from a mash that uses only one particular malted grain. Unless the whisky is described as single-cask, it contains whisky from many casks, and different years.
Blended Malt Whisky (i.e. Chivas Regal, Jameson)
Made from a mixture of single malt whiskies from different distilleries. Whisky that’s labelled as “pure malt” or just “malt” is almost certainly a blended malt whisky.
Blended Whisky (i.e. Johnnie Walker Blue Label)
Usually made from a mixture of different types of whisky. A blend may contain whisky from many distilleries so that the blender can create a flavour consistent with the brand.
Bourbon (i.e. Wild Turkey)
Type of American whisky (or whiskey, if you will) that’s made primarily from corn (at least 51%).
Tennessee Whiskey (i.e. Jack Daniel’s)
Type of American whisky (whiskey) that’s identical to Bourbon where it’s made primarily from corn (at least 51%), but produced exclusively in, and meets the stringent standards set by the state of Tennessee.
We will dwell deeper into the wonderful of whisky in the coming weeks where we’ll shed more light into the other types, regions and more through our Whisky Wednesdays series. For now, this is the very basics of whisky you ought to know.
By the way…
Want some whisky? We’ll deliver some to you!
And just in case you’ve got the thirst for some whisky, or you just want to see what the differences is really like between single malt and blended malt whisky, we’ve got a wide selection of both that’s on sale @ Boozeat right now!
About Editor 2.0
An avid boozer and word-stringer who's paid to drink and write for the revamped Boozeat Blog 2.0
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