Emblematic distillery in Scotland. Our whiskey connoisseur, George Papadogoulas, leaded our group in October of 2019 for an unforgettable experience. While many of the remaining Lowland distilleries are known primarily for cranking out enormous quantities of relatively neutral grain whisky used for blending, some producers are hanging on to the traditional Lowland single malt style, which calls for triple pot still distillation. Perhaps the most famous of these is Auchentoshan.
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Whisky and Whiskey is same to the uninitiated, but holds more than that meets the eye for the ones who love this noble drink. The difference of the letter ‘e’ results not only due to the touch of the heritage, but due to the derivation of it in linguistics, too. The presence of the letter ‘e’ recognises this glorified golden liquid to be of the Irish, and of the Americans. Japan, England, Canada, China, and India too, being producers of whisk(e)y, feel the strong need of keeping the letter ‘e’ in the name.
This difference in the spelling originally comes from the translation of the Gaelic word usquebaugh
Difference Between Whiskey and Whisky
Whisky is etymologically linked with many spirits, which all refer to the origin of the word ‘spirit’, meaning ‘the quest for the elixir of life’. However, whisky’s personal etymological journey began from the ancient Gaelic (Celtic language, native to the Gaels of Scotland) term uisge beatha or usquebaugh, literally meaning ‘water of life’. In Old Irish, uisce meant ‘water’ and bethu meaning ‘life.’ The journey then progressed on to the English language, where the early recorded spellings in English were iskie bae (1580s) and usquebea (1706). In Ireland and Scotland whisky was obtained from malt, whereas in the U.S. it was obtained from corn and rye. The letter ‘e’ was taken to the United States by the Irish immigrants in the 1700s. And wherever the Scots went, they preferred keeping the letter ‘e’ at bay.
Therefore, in the 19th century, the slight spelling distinction between whisky and whiskey was created, the former the Scotch Whisky and the latter American Whiskey. The term Whisky Sour was recorded from 1889.
The Etymology of the term ‘alcohol’, which appeared in the English language in the 16th century, in itself has interesting derivations. Distillation is often attributed to the Arabs. The term itself was derived from the medieval Latin and more specifically from the Arabic al-kuhl. ‘Al’ is the definitive article ‘the’, whereas ‘kuhl’ is ‘kohl’, the powdered form of eyeliner or other powders obtained by the process of sublimation. The term alcohol, the way which it is used today, is known to be recorded in 1753, meaning ‘intoxicating ingredient in strong liquor’. The ‘water of life’ is a term that is also applied to other spirits, for instance aquavit, deriving from the Latin aqua vitae, literally meaning water of life.
The modern geographical distribution of the terms whisky and whiskey is split into: The Americans and Irish prefer whiskey whereas the Scots, Canadians and the rest of the world’s whisky makers prefer the term Whisky.
There are three major different types of Whiskey or Whisky based on their geographical origin and method of preparation.
American Whiskey or Bourbon Whiskey
1. Scotch Whisky
The term Scotch Whisky is strictly used to describe the product prepared in the country of Scotland and has to adhere to a set of specific guidelines. Some of the world’s best Whisky brands are located in the country of Scotland due to their abundant freshwater supply and distinct method of preparation.
Scotch Whisky must;
Be prepared in the country of Scotland and using malted barley and smaller amounts of other grains
Matured in Oak barrels for no less than three years and one day
Contain no added substances or flavoring except caramel food coloring
Have an Alcohol By Volume strength of 40% (80 US Proof)
Once Scotch Whisky is fermented, distilled and matured, it can be bottled in five different ways such as
Single malt scotch whisky,
Single grain whisky,
Blended malt whisky,
Blended grain whisky,
Blended Scotch whisky.
Single Malt Scotch Whisky signifies the bottling of spirits developed at a single distillery, whereas Blended Malt Whisky is a product of mixing together source whiskies from different distilleries and age statements.
Single Grain Whisky implies the making of Whisky with the use of a different sort of grain in addition to malted barley, whereas Blended Grain Whisky means the mixture of two or more Single Grain Whiskies.
Blended Scotch Whisky is used to describe Single or Blended Malt Whiskies with other Single or Blended Grain Whiskies.
2. Irish Whiskey
Whiskey was one of Ireland’s chief exports, and Irish Whiskey like Scotch Whisky, needs the beverage to be prepared, distilled, and matured in the country of Ireland.
Irish Whiskey must;
Be fermented using yeast and prepared using a mash of malted and unmalted grains
Aged for a period of no less than three years in wooden casks
Have no added colors or flavoring except caramel food coloring
Have an Alcohol By Volume strength of 40% (80 US Proof)
Irish Whiskey can be classified into four different categories based on the ingredients and the manner of their preparation;
Single Pot Still Whiskey
Single Malt Whiskey
Single Grain Whiskey
3. American Whiskey – Bourbon
Bourbon Whiskey is legally classified per US regulations that, much like the Scottish and Irish authorities, specify the criteria for a Whiskey to be called a Bourbon. Surprisingly unlike Scotch Whisky and Irish Whisky, Bourbon Whiskey or American Whiskey has no specified aging period.
An American Bourbon Whiskey must be;
Produced in United States with a grain mixture that is at least 51% Corn.
Aged in charred, new Oak barrels
Distilled at 160 US Proof (40% ABV), barreled at 125 US Proof (62.5% ABV) and bottled at 80 US Proof (40% ABV)
Apart from Bourbon Whiskey, the United States of America also famously produce some minor different types of Whiskey such as Corn Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Wheat Whiskey, Malt Whiskey and Tennessee Whiskey.
Corn Whiskey is produced by using a mash that consists of more than 80% of Corn and can be aged in new or used charred oak barrels.
Rye Whiskey employs 51% of Rye and other malted or unmalted grains.
Wheat Whiskey uses a mash that is 51% Wheat and other malted or unmalted grains.
This type of Whiskey is developed using a mash of 51% malted barley.
Although similar to Bourbon Whiskey in many ways, is differentiated through the unique filtration process it goes through right before it gets barreled in charred, oak casks. This filtration process is legally known as the Lincoln Country Process.
Other than the three major different types of Whiskey or whisky, Japan, Canada, Australia and India are also well-known for producing the spirit. Indian whiskies are typically created using imported Scotch malts and blending them with domestic grain spirits.
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