What is Whiskey or Whisky?

Whiskey is the most searched for beverage on the internet, with New York City having a long standing history of Whiskey bars and locations in all the five boroughs in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx, why not share some valueable information about Whiskey.

A little history about Whiskey:

Whiskey or whisky is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Various grains (which may bemalted) are used for different varieties, including barleycorn (maize)rye, and wheat. Whisky is typically aged in wooden casks, generally made of charred white oak.

Whiskey is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many classes and types. The typical unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation, and aging in wooden barrels.

Names and Spellings:

Much is made of the word’s two spellings: whiskey and whisky. There are two schools of thought on the issue. One is that the spelling difference is simply a matter of regional language convention for the spelling of a word, indicating that the spelling varies depending on the intended audience or the background or personal preferences of the writer (like the difference between color and colourtire and tyre; or recognize and recognise), and the other is that the spelling should depend on the style or origin of the spirit being described. There is general agreement that when quoting the proper name printed on a label, the spelling on the label should not be altered. Some writers refer to “whisk(e)y” or “whisky/whiskey” to acknowledge the variation.

The spelling whiskey is common in Ireland and the United States while whisky is used in every other whisky producing country in the world. In the US, the usage has not always been consistent. From the late eighteenth century to the mid twentieth century American writers used both spellings interchangeably until the introduction of newspaper style guides. Since the 1960s, American writers have increasingly used whiskey as the accepted spelling for aged grain spirits made in the US.

“Scotch” is the internationally recognized term for Scotch Whisky.

Production:

Distillation

still for making whiskey is usually made of copper, since it removes sulfur-based compounds from the alcohol that would make it unpleasant to drink. Modern stills are made of stainless steel with copper innards (piping, for example, will be lined with copper along with copper plate inlays along still walls). The simplest standard distillation apparatus is commonly known as a pot still, consisting of a single heated chamber and a vessel to collect purified alcohol.

Column stills are frequently used in the production of grain whiskey and are the most commonly used type of still in the production of Bourbon and other American whiskeys. Column stills behave like a series of single pot stills, formed in a long vertical tube. Whereas a single pot still charged with wine might yield a vapour enriched to 40–50% alcohol, a column still can achieve a vapour alcohol content of 95.6%; an azeotropic mixture of alcohol and water.

Aging

Whiskies do not mature in the bottle, only in the cask, so the “age” of a whiskey is only the time between distillation and bottling. This reflects how much the cask has interacted with the whiskey, changing its chemical makeup and taste. Whiskies that have been bottled for many years may have a rarity value, but are not “older” and not necessarily “better” than a more recent whiskey that matured in wood for a similar time. After a decade or two, additional aging in a barrel does not necessarily improve a whiskey

Packaging

Most whiskies are sold at or near an alcoholic strength of 40% abv, which is the statutory minimum in some countries – although the strength can vary, and cask-strength whiskey may have as much as twice that alcohol percentage.

Types:

American Whiskey]

 

American whiskey is distilled from a fermented mash of cereal grain. It must have the taste, aroma, and other characteristics commonly attributed to whiskey.

Some types of whiskey listed in the United States federal regulations[ are:

These types of American whiskey must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol by volume, and barrelled at no more than 125 proof. Only water may be added to the final product; the addition of colouring or flavouring is prohibited. These whiskeys must be aged in new charred-oak containers, except for corn whiskey which does not have to be aged. If it is aged, it must be in uncharred oak barrels or in used barrels. Corn whiskey is usually unaged and sold as a legal version of moonshine.

If one of these whiskey types reaches two years aging or beyond, it is additionally designated as straight, e.g., straight rye whiskey. A whiskey that fulfils all above requirements but derives from less than 51% of any one specific grain can be called simply a straight whiskey without naming a grain.

US regulations recognize other whiskey categories, including:

  • Blended whiskey—a mixture that contains a blend of straight whiskeys and neutral grain spirits (NGS), and may also contain flavourings and colourings. The percentage of NGS must be disclosed on the label and may be as much at 80% on a proof gallon basis.
  • Light whiskey—produced in the US at more than 80% alcohol by volume and stored in used or uncharred new oak containers
  • Spirit whiskey—a mixture of neutral spirits and at least 5% of certain stricter categories of whiskey

Another important labelling in the marketplace is Tennessee whiskey, of which Jack Daniel’sGeorge DickelCollier and McKeel, and Benjamin Prichard’s are the only brands currently bottled. The main difference defining a Tennessee whiskey is its use of the Lincoln County Process, which involves filtration of the whiskey through charcoal. The rest of the distillation process is identical to bourbon whiskey. Whiskey sold as “Tennessee whiskey” is defined as Bourbon underNAFTA and at least one other international trade agreement, and is similarly required to meet the legal definition of Bourbon under Canadian law.

Canadian

Canadian whiskies are available throughout the world and are a culturally significant export. Well known brands includeCrown RoyalCanadian ClubSeagram’s, and Wiser’s among others. The historic popularity of Canadian whisky in the United States is partly a result of rum runners illegally importing it into the country during the period of American Prohibition.By Canadian law Canadian whiskies must be produced and aged in Canada, be distilled from a fermented mash of cereal grain, be aged in wood barrels with a capacity limit of 700 litres (185 US gal; 154 imp gal) for not less than three years, and “possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky”. The terms “Canadian Whisky”, “Rye Whisky”, and “Canadian Rye Whisky” are legally indistinguishable in Canada and do not require any specific grain in their production. Canadian whiskies may contain caramel and flavouring in addition to the distilled mash spirits, and there is no maximum limit on the alcohol level of the distillation. To be exported under one of the “Canadian Whisky” designations, a whisky cannot contain more than 9.09% imported spirits.

Danish

Denmark began producing whisky early in 1974. The first Danish single malt to go on sale was Lille Gadegård from Bornholm, in 2005. Lille Gadegård is a winery as well, and uses its own wine casks to mature whisky.

The second Danish distilled single malt whisky for sale was Edition No.1 from the Braunstein microbrewery and distillery. It was distilled in 2007, using water from the Greenlandic ice sheet, and entered the market in March 2010.

English

There are currently at least six distilleries producing English whisky. Though England is not very well known for making whisky, there were distillers previously operating in London, Liverpool and Bristol until the late 19th century, after which production of English single malt whisky ceased until 2003.

German

German whisky production is a relatively recent phenomenon having only started in the last 30 years. The styles produced resemble those made in Ireland, Scotland and the United States: single malts, blends, wheat, and bourbon-like styles. There is no standard spelling of German whiskies with distilleries using both “whisky” and “whiskey”. In 2008 there were 23 distilleries in Germany producing whisky.

Indian

India consumes almost as much whisky as the rest of the world put together. Distilled alcoholic beverages that are labelled as “whisky” in India are commonly blends based on neutral spirits that are distilled from fermented molasses with only a small portion consisting of traditional malt whisky, usually about 10 to 12 percent. Outside India, such a drink would more likely be labelled a rum. According to the Scotch Whisky Association‘s 2013 annual report, “there is no compulsory definition of whisky in India, and the Indian voluntary standard does not require whisky to be distilled from cereals or to be matured. Ninety percent of the whisky consumed in India is molasses-based, although whisky wholly distilled from malt and other grains, is also manufactured and sold. Amrut, the first single malt whisky produced in India, was launched on 24 August 2004.

Irish

 

Irish whiskeys are normally distilled thrice, Cooley Distillery being the exception as they also double distill. Though traditionally distilled using pot stills, the column still is now used to produce grain whiskey for blends. By law, Irish whiskey must be produced in Ireland and aged in wooden casks for a period of no less than three years, although in practice it is usually three or four times that period.Unpeated malt is almost always used, the main exception being Connemara Peated Malt whiskey.

There are several types of whiskey common to Ireland: single malt, single grain, blended whiskey and pure pot still whiskey.

Japanese

The model for Japanese whiskies is the single malt Scotch, although there are also examples of Japanese blended whiskies. The base is a mash of malted barley, dried in kilns fired with a little peat (although considerably less than in Scotland), and distilled using the pot still method. Before 2000, Japanese whisky was primarily for the domestic market and exports were limited. Japanese whiskies such as Suntory and Nikka won many prestigious international awards between 2007 and 2014. Japanese whisky has earned a reputation for quality.

Scotch

 

Scotch whiskies are generally distilled twice, although some are distilled a third time and others even up to twenty times. Scotch Whisky Regulations require anything bearing the label “Scotch” to be distilled in Scotland and matured for a minimum of three years in oak casks, among other, more specific criteria. Any age statement on the bottle, in the form of a number, must reflect the age of the youngest Scotch whisky used to produce that product. A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed age whisky. Scotch whisky without an age statement may, by law, be as young as three years old.

The basic types of Scotch are malt and grain, which are combined to create blends. Scotch malt whiskies are divided into five main regions: HighlandLowlandIslaySpeyside and Campbeltown.

Other

ManX Spirit from the Isle of Man is distilled elsewhere and re-distilled in the country of its nominal “origin”. The ManX distillery takes a previously matured Scotch malt whisky and re-distills it.

In 2010 a Czech whisky was released, the 21-year-old “Hammer Head”.

In 2008 at least two distilleries in the traditionally brandyproducing Caucasus region announced their plans to enter the Russian domestic market with whiskies. TheStavropol-based Praskoveysky distillery bases its product on Irish whiskey, while in KizlyarDagestan‘s “Russian Whisky” announced a Scotch-inspired drink in single malt, blended and wheat varieties.

Destilerías y Crianza del Whisky S.A. is a whisky distillery in Spain. Its eight-year-old Whisky DYC is a combination of malts and spirits distilled from barley aged separately a minimum of eight years in American oak barrels.

Frysk Hynder is a Dutch single malt, distilled and bottled in the Frisian Us Heit Distillery. It is the first single malt produced in the Netherlands.

Close Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *