Different types of whiskey explained
In the past, whiskey drinking was seen as a pastime of men in suits, but this is changing.
This classic liquor is now being served at craft cocktail bars far beyond country clubs because of its popularity.
There are different varieties of whiskey for different palates, and we’ve identified the best drinks for everyone, from beginners to experts.
It will be helpful for dads, grandpas, and husbands who are looking for the best bottle for Father’s Day to know what the traditional drink of dads is.
There is an additional description for each pairing suggestion and signature drink.
I will refer to everything distilled fermented from grain mash as “whisky” for the purpose of this article.
There are several countries with variations in spelling, including Scotland, Canada, and Japan, but for consistency’s sake we will include the “e” throughout.
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What is whisky?
Whiskey is derived from the Gaelic words “uisce beatha” or “uisge beatha,” which mean “water of life.”
Whisky (sometimes spelled whisk) is an amber-colored distilled spirit made from fermented grains, usually barley, wheat, or corn, called whisky (sometimes spelled whisk).
Almost always, whiskey is aged in wood barrels before it is bottled, and the alcohol by volume (ABV) of whiskey must be at least 40%.
As you might expect, whiskey’s flavor can differ depending on its origin, the type of grain used, the blending process, or the aging process, and each type has its own unique characteristics. Whiskey is typically described as warm, spicy, sweet, or caramel-like regardless of how spicy, sweet, or toasty it is.
Is it whiskey or whisky?
A product’s location determines its production location. Many seasoned drinkers are confused by the difference between whisk(e)y written with and without the extra “e”.
A letter proves to be an important part of the story after all.
The letter “e” has long been associated with Irish whiskeys since the 17th century.
In Scotland and Canada, distillers don’t use the letter “e.”
The same goes for their counterparts in Japan. Whisky is a product of this need.
History of whiskey
A spirit such as whiskey is made by distilling grains that have been fermented.
We know that this process dates back to ancient Mesopotamia.
Eventually, monasteries in Europe began producing alcohol using this process. Following its introduction to Scotland and Ireland, it was loved by the English royal family during the 11th to 13th centuries.
The locals in Scotland were not able to easily obtain grapes so they distilled grains, which they were able to find in abundance.
During the next few hundred years, several tests were conducted on the love of whiskey among Scots.
Distillers devised clever methods of evading detection during the 18th century when alcohol was taxed.
It is less likely that people will see smoke from a fire at night, when most people only work.
This led to the coinage of ‘moonshine’ becoming a household term.
Ireland, England, and Scotland were among the first Europeans to introduce whiskey to America’s colonies.
Despite the new government’s threats, distillers were once again subject to heavy taxes.
It was after the Whiskey Rebellion that the tax was abolished in 1802, escalating the anger.
A period of increased whiskey production was also witnessed during the 1823 prohibition period due to the removal of English government bans.
As Prohibition raged and the tides turned, an alcohol ban in Scotland, dating back 150 years, drove the underground whiskey movement.
Established distilleries such as Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam shifted their focus overseas as light spirits became popular in American bars in the 1960s.
Small batches and single barrels have contributed greatly to the growth of Japanese whiskey markets.
What Is Whiskey Made Of?
The ingredients that make up whiskey are simple:
- Grain mash: Alcohol is made from agricultural products through a fermentation process. Based on grains, such as malted barley, rye, corn, or wheat, the final product takes on either a strong flavor or a specific designation. It is required that rye whiskey have at least 51 percent rye by volume, whereas bourbon must contain at least 51 percent corn by volume.
- Water: Whiskey is distilled and then water is added to achieve the ideal alcohol content.
- Optional additives: The US has a regulation allowing whiskey to contain up to 2.5 percent added flavors (whisky that contains no added flavors is classified as “straight”). The distillation or aging processes of many whiskey brands are tailored to achieve distinctive properties or appearances.
- Time: In order to bring out the flavors and colors of whiskey, it is aged in wooden barrels or casks after distillation. Whiskey must be aged a minimum of two years in the US, although many distilleries age it for around ten to twelve years.
In order to make whiskey, most producers follow the following steps:
- Mix the base ingredients together. Whiskey makers take grains – such as wheat malt, flaked corn, or rye – and mix them with yeast and water to make a fermentable base for their brew. Stirring is then done to ensure the mixture is well incorporated and ready to ferment (called “whisky mash”).
- You must ferment the base. After the base mixture is fermented, whiskey makers store it for a specified amount of time, typically one or two weeks. A natural, simple alcohol is produced during this process. It is called ethanol or ethyl alcohol.
- Mix it well, then strain it.The fermented solids are strained from the liquid once fermentation is complete. Solids will be discarded, and vodka will be made out of the liquid (ethanol).
- Then distill. In distillation, a liquid is heated and vaporized, then collected after it is recondensed into a liquid that has been purified. In contrast, the resulting liquid is considered more alcoholic (since many impurities are left behind when it evaporates).
- Distillate is collected and sorted. Following distillation, whiskey distillers aren’t left with one liquid — the resulting liquid changes as ethanol distills. As a result of the first 35 percent of a distillation, methanol or acetone is produced in the form of highly volatile, toxic product-called “foreshots” and “heads,” these containers are often discarded by distillers. A further 30 percent of the product contains the “hearts.” These are the best products. It is redistilled with 35 percent of the impurities, which are kept for further development.
- The liquor should be aged.
As part of the aging process, whiskey is aged for at least two years in wooden barrels after distillation. The age of whiskey can range from new oak barrels to white oak barrels to barrels charred with fire or soaked with wine or sherry.
- Then dilute. Before or after aging (and sometimes both), whiskey makers test and dilute their product with filtered water for the correct alcohol content.
- The bottle. The final step in the production process involves bottling, where whiskey is added to labels on bottles. It stops aging after it has been bottled.
Types of Whiskey
1. Scotch Whisky
Scotland is the only place where whisky can legally be branded as Scotch, and this stuff meets all the requirements.
You can buy scotch whisky in five subgenres: malt whisky, single malt whisky, blended whisky, and blended malt grain whisky.
The flavor of Scotch whisky is unlike any other whisky because it is largely characterized by pungent, sour notes.
Minimum 3 years in a barrel are required for this wine.
2. Canadian Whisky
The minimum age of Irish whisky and Scotch whisky within Canada is three years, but the minimum age of Canadian whisky is seven years, whether it is charred, untouched, or charred. Furthermore, the spirit must be imported as well as beaten & distilled in Canada.
Because some spirits used for blending can have alcohol contents exceeding 90%, they are usually blended to a drier level.
The color and flavor of whisky can be lost, for example, if whisky is blended down from 90% to 40%.
In addition to caramel color, Canadian whisky can also be flavored with artificial flavors. It is required that the final product contain at least 40% alcohol by volume in order to be bottled.
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In order for Canadian whisky to be legal, it must meet the following standards.
3. Irish Whiskey
The taste of Irish whiskey differs from other kinds of whiskey in that it is smoother. Malt is boiled into spirit, then diluted with water and caramel coloring, then aged for at least three years in barrels.
Irish whiskey can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks, and it can also be used to make cocktails.
4. Bourbon Whiskey
A form of whiskey, bourbon is traditionally crafted from corn. Accordingly, bourbon whiskey must be aged in new oak barrels and be made in the U.S. at least 51% of the corn in it needs to be corn. The wine can be aged for as long as you like, however it must be bottled at or above 80 proof.
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5. European whiskey
This next whiskey does not have the room to discuss the various categories or brands within it, so we will not do so. Fermented grains go into the creation of this spirit, among them barley, corn, rye, and wheat. This whisky is aged for around three years in wooden barrels, which gives it an oaky finish.
6. Tennessee Whiskey
It is not likely that Tennessee’s distillers will embrace the idea of bourbon whiskey being classified as Tennessee whiskey. Instead, they use Tennessee whiskey to define themselves. According to Tennessee legal requirements, all Tennessee whiskey that is currently produced must be filtered by the Lincoln County Process before aging.
7. Rye Whiskey
Whiskey made from rye at least 51% of the time is made in the U.S. Barley, corn, and even wheat can also be used as ingredients. The distillation process is similar to that of bourbon. Straight rye whiskey is rye that has not been blended and has aged for two or more years. Rye is spicy and tends to taste spicier than smooth, sweet bourbon.
8. Blended Whiskey
It’s just as its name implies-a blend of several kinds of whiskey, along with flavors, colorings, and even other grains. Whiskeys of this type are great for cocktails, since they make it possible to taste the flavor of the spirit while keeping it at an affordable price point.
9. Single Malt Whisky
A single malt whisky can only be produced at a single distillery from one batch of scotch. A minimum of three years of aging is needed before it can be bottled. Single malt beer’s name derives from its ingredients, since the main ingredient is malted barley. However, these rules did not apply to distilleries in the United States. American single malts, for example, can often be made from rye instead of barley.
The general characteristics of whisky
You can determine the value of old whisky by considering a few general factors. A few general characteristics will be discussed.
Whisky bottles should be maintained in good condition if you collect whisky. Care should be taken to avoid unwanted scratches, faded labels and missing components on your whisky bottles. It is always a good idea to check bottles for damage, as this could affect their value. The bottle should always be kept out of direct sunlight in a dry place where it can’t get damaged.
Is the bottle open?
A whisky bottle that has been opened loses its collectible value. Whisky, like any spirit or beverage, is harmed by the influence of the air. Once it comes in contact with air, the molecular composition and taste changes.
The most desired bottles are those in excellent condition. As opposed to lower-fill bottles, which are collected for historical reasons or as decor. The origin is especially important if it is interesting.
Although the suggested storage temperature is 21 degrees celsius, there is no definite metric. Depending on the temperature, whiskies have different reactions. High temperatures should be avoided at all costs.
As a brand
High-quality brands can be found in a variety of forms.
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If you want to see what valuable whisky brands are sold at auction, check out these brands.
What is the alcohol content of whiskey?
You may be curious to know how each whiskey compares to other alcoholic beverages.
You’re in luck.
Most governments have very strict guidelines regarding whiskeys, partly as a result of alcohol being highly regulated in the first place, and partially due to the whiskey industry’s desires to define what is authentic whiskey.
The alcohol content of whiskey is significantly higher than the alcohol content of beer.
An alcohol by volume measurement is what is used to measure a whiskey’s alcohol content. The maximum ABV for most beers is 10 percent, but the ABV for whiskey is typically 40 percent. The word whiskey itself is forbidden in some countries if the alcohol content is less than 40 percent.
Why whiskey matters and where it comes from?
There are many whiskeys made around the world, sometimes in unexpected places.
(For example, the Tasmanian whiskey industry could fill an entire vacation for a dedicated distillery explorer.)
And you probably know that certain beverages can only exist in certain geographical regions, such as bourbon from Kentucky.
Additionally, whiskey has a different spelling in both spellings, due to its geographical difference. There was a time when both spellings were considered interchangeable, most recently in the last fifty years.
The unofficial convention is that “whiskey” describes whiskey from the United States, while “whisky” describes whiskey from elsewhere. In Ireland as well, “whisky” is usually spelled “whisky”, and certain businesses will customize their choices in accordance with their locations.
Though it’s an interesting fact to know, it’s not a problem to use the spelling that your spell checker does not disagree with.
Some industries are more known and bigger than others when it comes to whiskey making. Among the most prominent whiskey producers are the United States, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and Japan.
Bourbon isn’t the only spirit made by American distilleries.
The popularity of rye whiskey is close behind that of bourbon.
As corn is such a huge crop over there, it is no surprise that the United States produces a huge amount of both types of barrels.
In addition to blended whiskeys, the U.S. has a unique type of Tennessee bourbon filtered through charcoal.
Additionally, America’s northern neighbor has quite a few distilleries that produce whiskey.
There are a lot of Canadian whiskeys out there. They are rich in corn, but they are not subject to the same barrel restrictions as American bourbon, so they have distinct flavors.
A Canadian whiskey, as a whole, tastes lighter and has a touch fewer flavours than an American whiskey.
Also remember that Canadian rye does not actually contain rye and is actually a whole other drink.
Although the earliest whiskey records originate from Scotland, the first whiskey distillery was established in Ireland.
Because Irish malts are seldom smoked over peat, Irish whiskey doesn’t have the same smoky flavor as Scotch or other whiskeys.
In Ireland, there is also an additional whiskey category called pot still whiskey. It is made of a mixture of malted and unmalted barley.
Scotland is sort of the center of the whiskey world. Whiskey lovers have long considered good scotch as the pinnacle.
Although the whiskey production world is certainly diversifying, Scotland remains the center of the industry for now.
The same way that bourbon is only legitimately derived from Kentucky, only Scotland can make Scotch (at least if it is to be called Scotch).
The majority of scotches sold are 3 years old and bottled at 40 percent alcohol or more.
Japan is one of the youngest whiskey countries in comparison to other major whiskey regions. There is, however, rapid growth in the industry.
There are many similarities between Japanese whiskey and scotch, but the Japanese are also known for their take on whiskey, and they have created some truly original drinks.
Whiskey Drinking Instructions
Some connoisseurs will recommend you take at least your first sip of whiskey neat, which means it shouldn’t be mixed and shouldn’t be chilled.
When whiskey is served on the rocks, it is often diluted and the alcohol content (ABV) is lowered. It is a powerful liquor with a high alcohol content. Over ice, that is what they order.
Don’t think whiskey is just for sips on its own. You should try mixing drinks with whiskey, as it is often used in many of them. All the usual suspects, such as lemon-lime soda, orange juice, and all the others, go great with whiskey.
At the end of the day, whiskey can be enjoyed any way you like, so don’t let anyone influence your mind. Good whiskey opens up endless possibilities. Have some fun discovering the different flavours. Don’t be afraid to experiment from time to time; you might just find your new favorite beverage.
As cooling whiskey numbs its flavors slightly, experts recommend enjoying it at room temperature. Whiskey stones will get you to the right temperature without diluting without taking away too much of the edge.
That’s all there is to it. Having knowledge of the differences will help you to make an educated guess as to what you will want when you buy a spirit.