Different Categories Of Scotch Whisky
There are several categories and subcategories of Scotch Whisky. There are two basic types of Scotch Whisky. Those are the Single Malt Scotch Whisky and the Single Grain Scotch Whisky. All blends are made of those two basic types.
- Single Malt Scotch Whiskyis a Scotch Whisky produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by batch distillation in pot stills.
- Single Grain Scotch Whiskyis a Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery but which, in addition to water and malted barley, may also be produced from whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals.
- Blended Scotch Whiskyis a combination of one or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies with one or more Single Grain Scotch Whiskies, which accords with traditional practice.
- Blended Grain Scotch Whisky
- is a blend of two or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies from different distilleries.
Best Peated: Ardbeg Uigeadail
Region: Islay | ABV: 54.2% | Tasting Notes: Peat, Spice, Oak
If you like peated whisky, this is one of the best out there for sure, says Kurpinsky. Ardbeg is something of an Islay cult favorite, particularly appealing to true lovers of smoky whisky. The flavor of this Scotch comes from burning peat to dry out the barley and stop the malting process, which infuses the grain with smoke. This bottling, named after a local loch, has all the maritime salinity you come to expect from the distillery literally on the water, but also has one of the most satisfying finishes in Islay, adds Kurpinsky. You’ll get plenty of smoke, dried fruits, fresh coffee, dark sugars and that bit of sea salt.”
Region: Islay | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Black Tea, Smoke
McCoy is a big fan of Lagavulin, an Islay distillery that produces some nicely peated scotch. The 16-year-old expression, aged in second-fill ex-bourbon barrels, might be a little pricey, but its well worth the splurge. one of my all-time favorites from Islay, says McCoy. Big peat smoke, spice, sherry and notes of soft wood and black teadelicious all by itself while you’re unwinding next to the fire.
Single Malt Scotch Ingredients
Barley, water and yeast are the only ingredients needed to make single malt Scotch, though additional flavor is added via the oak casks the Scotch is stored in.
Barley is a grain left to soak for 2-3 days in water, which allows it to germinate and create fermentable sugars.
Water is a crucial ingredient, and many distilleries choose their location based on the ready availability of pure clean spring water.
Yeast is the magician. If it werent for yeast wed had nothing but sickly sweet, non-alcoholic syrup.
Yeasts are like the perfect guest: they eat everything put in front them and leave copious amounts of alcohol behind.
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Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Single malt Scotch whisky is made in Scotland from malted barley as its only grain. Also, it must be produced at a single distillery using batch distillation via pot stills. The pot stills are required, but double distillation isnt. There are notable outliers there, such as Auchentoshan, which follows a triple pot distillation regimen.
As all single malt must be pot distilled, and can by definition only come from one place, the pot stills used by a particular distillery are of the utmost importance. Indeed the shape and size of pot stills serve as the key drivers of flavor and differentiation for one distillery versus another. From bulbous and stout to tall and narrow, pot stills are both hugely variable and hugely important.
The major single malts likely need no introduction. Think about names such as Balvenie, Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Glenmorangie. Or if you like peated whiskies, the Islay mainstays of Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Bowmore are sure to ring a bell.
Ingredients Found In Single Malt Scotch Whisky
As you could understand by the previous paragraphs, the main ingredients of Single Malt Scotch Whisky are malted barley and water. Since the producers only have to produce whisky with the minimun of 50% of this cereal, they can add other grains to manufacture a specific expression.
The rest is just a natural chemistry process that transforms the mashed barley into the spirit we all know.
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What To Know About Single Malt Scotch
Single malt Scotchmatured in oak casks in Scotland for at least three yearsand one day
- “Malt” indicates that the whisky is distilled from a “malted” grain. Several types of grains can be malted however, in the case of single malt Scotch, barley is the only grain used.
- “Single” indicates that all the spirits in the bottle come from a single distillery. Bottlings containing malt whisky from multiple distilleries are called “blended malt”.
The Regulations Of A Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Regarding what is Single Malt Scotch Whisky, there are a few regulations within Scotlands and international law that define a Single Malt Scotch. For a Whisky to have this denomination, it
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Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky
One of the oldest and most renowned distributors of single malt Scotch Whisky is the Glenfiddich Distillery. Established in 1886, Glenfiddich started out as a small distillery that relied on second-hand equipment for production. Founder William Grant ran a small family run business, which faced fierce competition from larger companies. This competition intensified after World War II, when tastes turned towards the less sophisticated whiskey blends.
The Grant family persisted however, and made the decision in 1963 to market its product outside of Scotland as a strict single malt. While some considered this foolish, the move turned out to be a wise one. Today, Glenfiddich is the largest producer of single malt whiskey in the world, and one of only a handful of distillers that is still being run by a family operation.
Most single malt connoisseurs will admit that it was image that first drew them to the spirit, and taste that kept them there. There is no denying that single malts have a distinct robust flavor that is meant to be savored, not downed and chased. For some this is an acquired taste, building slowly by drinking only high quality single malts with nothing more than a splash of water.
Variables Consistency And House Style
When whisky is aged in oak barrels, a number of variables influence the final character of the spirit. A full discussion of these variables is beyond the scope of this article, but they include climate variations, where a barrel ages within its warehouse, and even variables in the quality of the oak used to make the barrels.
Because so many variables influence the character of a barrel of whisky, nearly all whiskies on the market today are made by mixing barrels together to achieve a product that’s consistent from one release to the next. A master blender at the distillery tastes through the barrels that are ready for release and mixes them to create a product consistent with the brand’s flavor profile. Not every barrel produced at, say, Springbank or Glenmorangie will exactly fit the house style that consumers expect. To achieve that house style, then, requires a blend of whiskies from many barrels.
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What Is An Independent Bottler
here are about 120 distilleries producing single malt whisky in Scotland. Of these 120, there are 40 to 50 that market their malts under their own labels. These malts are known as Distillery Releases or Official Bottlings. Familiar brands include Glenlivet, Glen Grant, Lagavulin, Oban, Macallan, etc.
The other 70 to 80 distilleries produce single malt Scotch whisky not for consumers, but for the companies marketing blended scotch whisky, such as Dewars1 J & : B, Cutty Shark, etc. Blended Scotch whisky is produced using a blend of 20 to 40 different types of single malts and inexpensive grain whisky each blender has his own formula. Thus Dewars tastes different than J & : B, and so on. Demand for these particular blends requires that the distilleries deliver consistent blends year after year. The need for consistency drove the blenders to guarantee their supply of malts by acquiring the individual distilleries.
In some instances there are surplus casks from both independent and blender distilleries. Signatory, as an independent bottler, is able to source a few casks of these malts, bottle them under the Signatory Label, and then offer these single malts that are otherwise found only in blends, to consumers. We select the best of the surplus parcels, allowing us to source exceptional whiskys that demonstrate the unique character of each distillery.
Best Value Whisky: Aberfeldy 12
- Region: Highlands
- Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Almond, Baking Spice
This is a classic Highlands whisky, and its unusual to peek at one of the whiskies used in Dewars White Label, which is much more well-known.
Aberfeldy, which has been in operation since the turn of the century, adds a large percentage of malt to the Dewars blend. With prices ranging from $30 to $40, the 12-year-old expression is an excellent value single malt.
For the comparably low price, the attentive drinker is rewarded with flavour-rich, syrupy honey flavours emphasized by blasts of vanilla and paired with a subtle spice undertone.
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What Does Single Malt Whisky Taste Like
Generally, it tastes oaky, malty, and woody, with rich notes of vanilla, caramel, nut, and fruit.
Single malts amplify and mellow the flavor profile to make it superiorly smooth.
Single malt scotch whisky is smoky and tastes better than blended malt scotch whisky.
Recent History Of Single Malt Scotch Whisky
According to a 2016 survey, barely 20% of Scotch whisky is produced by enterprises based in Scotland. Diageo, a London-based firm, owns the bulk of the goods, while Suntory, a Japanese company, owns Morrison-Bowmore.
Independent distilleries owned by Scots corporations also produce a significant amount of whisky, the largest being William Grant & Sons. Grant is responsible for 8% of total Scotch whisky production, including names like Glenfiddich and Balvenie. Glenfiddich is the worlds best-selling Single Malt Scotch Whisky, with around 14 million bottles.
Single malt whisky has made up around 26% of whisky exported to foreign nations in recent years, with bulk spirits accounting for about 5% and blended whisky accounting for the rest. The United States , France , and Singapore are the major importers of Scotch whisky .
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What Whiskey Is Smoothest
What are the Smoothest Whiskeys?
- Scotch Whisky. Laphroaig 10 Year Old is considered by many to be Best Single Malt Whisky in the World. It has a smokey-smooth taste, without being too overpowering. …
- American Bourbon Whiskey. American Bourbon is not as simple as you might think. …
- Canadian Whisky. …
The Mashing Of The Malt
The finished malt is milled to flour. This coarse flour is called grist and is mixed with hot water in the mash tun. If the grist is too coarse the sugar canât be fully extracted. If the grist is too fine it sticks together, and the sugar can also not be extracted completely. The malt is mashed three times before the sugar solution is cooled in a cooler. In the first run, the water has a temperature of about 65Â° C in the second run, the temperature of the fresh water is increased to 80Â° C. For the final run, the water is heated nearly to the boiling point . During this third run, only so little sugar is extracted that this weak sugar solution is cooled down and used for the first run of the next batch. The remaining mash is brought to specialised plants where it is dehydrated and the residue is processed into animal feed. The exhaust air of these plants can be smelled for miles. The sugar solution must be cooled down to 20Â°C since the yeast wouldnât survive higher temperatures. 50kg of yeast are added to 15,000 litres of sugar solution.
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How To Drink Single Malt Scotch
Technically speaking, a dram is no more than of a fluid ounce. However, nowadays, dram is no longer a teaspoon full but is more commonly known as a glass of scotch.
Enjoying Scotch is an acquired taste. You might not like Scotch the first couple of times that you may try it. Drinking your first dram incorrectly can dishearten you from ever trying it again due to its harsh and burning taste. However, having one correctly will allow your palate to grow and for you to appreciate this drink better.
How Do You Drink Scotch
So, without further ado, here are the four ways to drink Scotch according to a Scottish bartender.
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Sourcing Water To Use In Making Whisky
Because water is such a key ingredient in making single malt scotch whisky, where that water comes from can be a key consideration. Many distilleries will protect their water source, trying to gain exclusivity over it. It becomes part of their heritage, their story, and their marketing. For example, sister distilleries Glenfiddich and Balvenie who draw water from the Robbie Dhu springs.
The logic is that the minerals in the water will effect the fermentation process, influencing the flavour profile. Given the distillation process, and recognising the major impact the maturation phase, experts are divided on how important the water source truly is. But certainly purists will argue it is at least one of the variables in creating flavour.
Is Single Malt Whiskey Scotch
Scotland may always be associated with single malt Scotch whisky, but these whiskies are now made in every continent, except Antarctica, and all over the world. As a matter of law, a whisky can only be known as Scottish if it has been distilled following a certain set of rules in the country. It is possible to distill single malt whiskey anywhere in the world.
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Types Of Yeast Used In Making Scotch Whiskies
Yeast is a fungus. A friendly fungus – humans have used yeast for thousands and thousands of years. It plays a key part in making bread. And, it plays a key part in making alcohol. From beer and cider, to wine, and to whisky – yeast is crucial.
You don’t need to add a lot of yeast. Around 2 to 2.5% of the wash volume will be enough for the magic to happen. Once added, the yeast feeds off the sugars present in the malt barley wash to create alcohol and flavour compounds during fermentation. The yeast used during fermentation needs to be able to:
- Convert sugar into alcohol efficiently
- Create desirable flavours
- Survive long enough in a hot, high ethanol and high sugar environment to complete their crucial work
- And, remain stable during storage before use
All the types of yeast used in making whisky come from one species: Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. There are different types of yeast that distillers can choose to use, within this species. Most distillers will use a combination of two styles: brewer yeasts and distillers yeasts. By using a combination of the two, they can ensure they use all the sugar in the wash while also producing desirable flavours.
Special Finish For An Intense Taste
For the storage of single malt whisky, often used American oak casks from the production of Bourbon whisky are used. For American Bourbon Whiskey only fresh, burnt-out casks are allowed for storage. So that the barrels are not simply thrown away, the barrels are sold to Scotland. For Scotch Whisky, the use of already used casks is also permitted.
Big advantage: By storing the Bourbon, the strong oak wood aromas are already somewhat degraded, which would make the Scotch much too strong over the long storage time in the cask. In addition, the cask also passes on characteristics of the previously stored Bourbon to the Scotch Whisky, thus extending the range of flavors.
However, casks in which sherry, rum, port or wine were previously-stored are also popular. The whisky continues to mature during the long storage period and can also absorb a variety of aromas from the wood, develop and gain character. Find out more on the production of whisky here: How to make whisky
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How Much Does Age Matter
The age of a single malt is often its major selling point, but when you go back to the subject of vatting, it becomes clear that different aged barrels of whiskey are being married together to form one single malt. Distillers will use the minimum age of the youngest whiskey to be added during vatting. So while you think you are drinking a 12 year old scotch, the truth is, it may be considerably older. The amount of each barrel used does not affect the age of the single malt at all. So long as there are trace amounts of 12 year old alcohol being added, it becomes a 12 year old spirit.