Frequently Asked Questions on Scotch Whisky

What Is Scotch Whisky?

This is a drink which is distilled in Scotland from barley, water and yeast. It has to be produced in Scotland, matured in oak cask for at least 3 years. It is sold as “blended” or “single malt”.

What does the term “single malt” mean?

Single malt has to have been produced at only one distillery. The word ‘malt’ comes from the fact that the barley has been ‘malted’. This is a process whereby the grains are made to sprout and then dried over peat fires. It must also be distilled in a pot still.

What does the term “blended” mean?

Blended whisky is a blend of whiskies from different distilleries. It can include single malt whiskies and also grain whisky. The age on a bottle will determine the age of the youngest whisky.

What does the term “blended malt” mean?

Whisky that is sold as ‘blended malt’ will contain only malt whiskies which have been blended to obtain a unique taste. These will can’t single malts and they have no grain whisky added.

What is “grain whisky”?

This is produced from grains like un-malted barley, corn or wheat. Most of the grain whisky production in Scotland is for use in the blended varieties. It is possible to buy single grain alcohol delivery whisky. This will contain whisky from one distillery without it being blended with other whiskies.

When was blending introduced?

Blending was started around the 1860’s in Edinburgh. It was generally felt that whisky was too strong a flavour to be enjoyed for everyday drinking. So by blending whisky it was possible to have milder flavours. Also the quality at that time of whiskies from distilleries was questionable and by blending whiskies it was possible to produce whiskies that were more constant in quality.

Which spelling is correct – whisky or whiskey?

Generally dictionaries will provide both spellings. If they are from Scotland, Canada and Japan then the word is written without the ‘e’. If they are from Ireland and USA then the ‘e’ is used in spelling.

Can Scotch whisky only be made in Scotland?

Yes. Whisky which is sold as ‘Scotch whisky’ must have been wholly produced and matured in Scotland.

What are the regional areas for whisky production in Scotland?

Scotland has six whisky producing regions – Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Islands, Islay, and Campbeltown. Each region will have it’s own unique characteristics and by tasting a single malt an expert should be able to tell which region of Scotland the drink is from.

What are the characteristics of each region?

Highland – not so peaty in flavour with hints of sea air.

Speyside – light peaty flavours and a sweetness to the taste.

Islay – Strong, sometimes pungent peaty flavours.

Lowlands – dry and mild taste. Not very peaty.

Islands – because of the geographical difference it’s difficult to categorise these whiskies.

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