New to the world of whiskey? There are lots of varieties of the spirit available, and there’s an awful lot of history behind them all. If you’re interested in really understanding whiskey, its many varieties and how you can best enjoy it, there are some key things to know.
How is Whiskey Made?
The process of making whiskey starts with a mash. This is where the grain or malt being used is ground in a mill and mixed with hot water. A mash is created, and the soluble starches within it are drained away as they become a liquid known as wort. This is a sugary solution that forms the basis of whiskey.
Once the wort has been cooled, it is passed into large liquid vessels. Yeast is added and the solution is left to ferment, slowly becoming a crude alcohol solution. This usually takes around 48 hours, and the end result is a liquid known as wash. This is a low-alcohol solution with some unfermentable matter found within it.
The wash is heated until the alcohol becomes a vapor, which then passes through a cooling plant and is once again condensed into a liquid. This distillation is all about separating the fermented liquid from the alcohol, removing yeast residue and other matter that is unfermentable. The result, a distillate, is distilled a second time, creating a whiskey.
What is Single Malt?
Single Malt Whiskey is a form of malt whiskey that comes from just one distillery. This means that the whiskey is created from a fermented mash of malted grain, and it contains no unmalted grain.
The most common kind of single malt is Scotch Whiskey, though there are varieties of single malts that come from other places. Typically, single malt will be more expensive and is considered more desirable, though there are many blended whiskeys that have garnered great reviews from critics.
Somewhat misleadingly, however, some single malts are in fact made from a blend of whiskeys. A number of different whiskeys produced by the same distillery may be combined to create a brand of single malt.
What is Blended Whiskey?
A blended whiskey is essentially a mixture. This means that two or more whiskeys have been combined to create one whiskey, which is bottled and sold. This spirit will contain a combination of barrel-aged malt whiskey and grain whiskeys.
What Kind of Blends Exist?
There is more than one kind of blend on the market. There are in fact three primary kinds of whiskey blends available, and these include the following.
1. Blended Scotch Whiskey
Blended Scotch whiskeys make up around 90% of all whiskey sales. This kind of whiskey is a blend of malt whiskeys and grain whiskeys that have been sourced from multiple distilleries. Some famous brands of blended Scotch whiskey include Cutty Sark, Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal.
2. Blended Grain Scotch Whiskey
A blended grain Scotch whiskey is a blend of single grain whiskeys taken from at least two distilleries. The single grain whiskeys are known for being among the milder offerings, but some distilleries produce exceptionally high quality grain whiskeys.
3. Blended Malt Scotch Whiskey
Blended malt Scotch whiskey was once called ‘vatted malts.’ This spirit is produced by blending single malts from at least two distilleries. There are many whiskey companies that purchase individual whiskeys from distillers and blend them to create their own product with unique flavors and characteristics.
Whiskey Lovers Don’t Add Ice
You will see it in bars all the time, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you! Adding ice to your whiskey changes the spirit in many ways. First of all, as the ice melts, it dilutes the whiskey. Secondly, the ice can dull the flavor of the whiskey, removing some of its unique characteristics that set it apart from other spirits on the market.
By reducing the temperature too much, the flavor is inhibited and the aroma damaged. For this reason, whiskey lovers do one of two things – they either drink it neat, or they use whiskey stones. SipDark’s popular soapstone whiskey stones are designed to be frozen and added to your drink, cooling it only the right amount, and allowing you to drink your whiskey undiluted.
While diluting your whiskey too much with melting ice is a bad thing, adding a dash of water can in fact be a good thing. A small drop of water stops the strong alcohol from numbing your sense of taste and smell. The best kind of water to use for this is still spring water – it will enhance the flavor and the aroma. Avoid using tap water, as in many parts of the world, the water contains chlorine that will ruin the flavor.
There Are Some Fantastic Whiskey Accessories
For anyone looking for a great wife or husband gift at Christmas (or any other holiday), there are many whiskey accessories available that makes drinking the spirit even more enjoyable. As well as the aforementioned soapstone whiskey stones, SipDark offers a range of products – including engraved groomsman gifts – that are ideal for whiskey lovers.
Take, for instance, SipDark’s range of high quality Glencairn glasses. These are the most popular form of glasses used by whiskey enthusiasts. They fit nicely in the hand and have the perfect weight and a shape that allows you to experience the aromas and flavors in their fullest form.
SipDark also has a number of whiskey bullet gifts available. These serve the same purpose as drink stones, but are made of solid steel and are crafted in the shape of a bullet.
So if you’re new to the world of whiskey, these are just some of the key things you need to be aware of. If you’re looking to enjoy whiskey even more, be sure to check out the wide range of great accessories available.