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Whiskey 101 for Home Distillers

It’s equally important that Home Distillers know what they are DOING as well as what they are TALKING about when it comes to making Whiskey.  So we’re going to take a little time here and share a whiskey primer that will help clarify some of the complexities that surround one of the world’s most-beloved beverages.  

Moonshine, as most of us know, has more personal and regional variations than whiskey, and therefore there are far fewer arguments about what qualifies and what doesn’t.  Make what you love and the Moonshine liquid bliss will flow.  

True whiskey has a few more rules to abide by.  Its worldwide history is more clearly defined and regionally “owned.”  Knowledgeable home distillers benefit from knowing a little bit more about the world of whiskey, even if you plan to break all the rules along the way!

 Four countries produce distinctly different whiskies and there are variations in the grains used, the flavors achieved, the spelling of the spirits and the distillation processes:  Ireland makes Irish Whiskey,  Scotland makes Scotch Whisky, Canada makes Canadian Whiskey and America makes Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, Rye Whiskey and Blended American Whiskey.  

Let’s take a look at the Whiskey of our forefathers first, and in the next entry I’ll give the scoop on American continent whiskey.  

Scotch Whisky - The first thing you’ll notice is that Scotch Whisky is spelled without the “e”, this is by tradition and established standards.  Scotch Whisky is double distilled and its a distinct smoky flavor comes from the malt drying process.  There are two types:  Single Malt and Blended.  

Single Malt Scotch Whisky is produced in a single distillery, in one season, from a single batch of whisky.  A 70% alcohol spirit known as “plain British spirit” is pumped into the casks and the finished product is not considered whisky until it has aged 3 years. To Single Malt loyalists, there is no better Scotch on the market.   

Blended Scotch Whisky is what most of us usually call Scotch and it’s what’s likely to be used in cocktails.  The deep, sometimes harsh tones of single malts are smoothed out by blending with mixed grain whiskies in a cask and aging them for several months, after each has been ages separately.  Blended Scotch Whisky is easy sipping whiskey for most people, on the rocks or neat.  

Irish Whiskey is considered by many people to be the father of all whiskey!  Its blend is complex and the malt that’s used is dried in a closed kiln, away from any fire or smoke.  This means it lacks the peaty, smoky character of Scotch, it’s closed cousin, and it’s distinguished by a smooth and balanced flavor that hints at the layers of complexity in it creation.  

Can’t you just go for a sip right now?    

Posted by Jason Stone on

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