What is whisky?
Whisky is a spirit drink made from distilling the fermented mash of grains such as wheat, barley, rye and corn. The beverage is aged in wooden barrels, usually oak, for a long period of time, up to 70 years.
This remarkable spirit is distilled throughout the whole world, but there are five countries that make the most popular whiskies: Scotland, Ireland, the USA, Canada, and Japan.
As for the origin of whisky, it is a matter of controversy between Ireland and Scotland. On the one hand, the craft of distillation was brought by traveling Irish monks, however, the first noted evidence of distilling whisky occurred in the 15th century in Scotland.
The taste of whisky depends on various factors such as the type of grain, the number and type of distillations, the region where it is made, the type of barrel it was aged in, the style of whisky. Whisky is considered to be one of the most complex and multifaceted spirits.
The process of making whisky starts exactly as in beer brewing: from the starch of malted barley is converted to sugars by fermentation, which is called a ‘mash’. This mash is then distilled, either in a single column distillation, or a double pot-still distillation. Unlike making beer, no hops are used to flavour the fermented liquid. Good whisky is a gourmet item that should be enjoyed with pleasure. Drinking whisky in order to get drunk is a waste of money and a good whisky.
Types of whisky:
The classification of whisky is complicated and interesting. It highly depends on the country, where the beverage is produced.
Single Malt Whisky is a type of whisky which contains whiskies from different casks but they all are made on the one distillery. It can be produced with barley and water.
Single Grain Whisky is made from one type of grain in one distillery. It is not necessarily barley, it can also be wheat, rye or corn.
Blended Whisky is a mix of malt and grain whisky.
Blended Malt Whiskey is made from two or more single malt whiskeys from different distilleries.
Blended Grain Whiskey is made from two or more single grain whiskeys that were produced in different distilleries.
Scotch Whisky by definition and law Scotch must be made in Scotland, and flavors are different depending on regions of Scotland. There are the Lowland, Highland, Islay, Campbeltown, and Speyside whiskey-making regions. One iconic taste of a particular style of Scotch called ‘peated whisky’ is characterized by smokiness which is achieved by drying the malt on peat-fueled fire.
Irish whiskey is a whiskey made in Ireland. It is characterized by its smooth taste due to triple distillation. It is more fruity and light by contrast with smoky and peaty scotch. Most of the Irish whiskeys are blended, but there are also a few kinds of single malt and single pot spirits which have their own unique character.
Canadian whisky is produced in Canada, mostly with corn and rye. It is popular for its smooth and light taste. Mostly it's a blended whiskey with single grain, but there are an increasing number of single malt, rye, and bourbon style whiskies. The drink is aged in wooden barrels previously used for aging bourbon or fortified wine.
Japanese whisky is very similar to the Scottish one, and, actually, this commonness is on purpose. In the beginning, Japanese whisky was produced for the local market only, but later it received world acknowledgment due to its high quality and delicate taste. There are two of the most popular distilleries in Japan: Nikka and Suntory.
American whiskey is generally sweeter, rarely peaty and than Irish whiskey and scotch. It is aged in new oak barrels, which later are used for aging other styles of whisky, as well as other spirits such as rum and tequila. The most popular American whisky is called bourbon, which originated in Kentucky. According to regulations, bourbon must be produced with at least 51% corn, the other 49% made up from other grains.
Indian whisky is typically a single malt whisky where the makers are following the Scotch model: they are double distilled and are all 100% malted barley. The most famous Indian whisky labels are Amrut Fusion Single Malt, Rampur Single Malt and Paul John Single Malt. The taste of the spirit is nice and fruity, with notes of nuts and citrus.
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