Scotch – Is a product must be produced in Scotland. The production of malt whiskey starts with barley. The barley is cleaned, and then set in warm water for 60 hours. Then it is spread on to the floor for 10 to 12 days, and it begins to sprout. The malt barley is removed to the drying kiln and spread out on huge screens below which peat fires are lighted. The smoke from the fires passes through the screen and dries the malt amidst the aroma of the peat. This is where scotch gets its smoky flavor. After the malt is dried, it is stored in hoppers for several weeks. The malt is then cleaned, weighed and put through a grinding mill where heavy rollers reduce it to a meal. The ground malt goes into a mash tun. Water is then mixed and heated to 146 degrees F. The grain mixture is dissolved into a mixture called wort. The liquid is then put into a large wooden tun, where yeast is then added. The most important thing when deciding on the right scotch for you; one must consider the region in which the scotch is brewed from.
Single Malt Scotch – Is a whisky that is distilled only in pot stills from malted barley. This type of whiskey is considered to be the father of all scotches. Single Malt Scotch
Rye Whisky - This term can be applied only to whiskeys made from a mash containing 51% Rye, and aged in charred oak barrels. Usually, rye whiskeys are spicy than bourbon.
Tennessee Whiskey - Must be produced in Tennessee and at least 51% one grain. There are only two distillers of Tennessee whiskey and both of them are corn based. Tennessee whiskeys are filtered through vats of sugar – maple charcoal.
Bourbon – Bourbon must be made with a minimum of 51 % corn. The rest of the grain must be rye, malted barley or wheat. The product must come from Bourbon County.
Corn Whiskey - Must use at least 80% corn and is aged in charred or uncharred oak barrels.
Canadian Whisky - Must be produced by central grains and from Canada. And under Canadian law, distillers are able to add small amounts of wine and spirits, such as sherry, cognacs, bourbon, whiskey and prune wines.
Irish Whisky – Produced in the same mannor as Scotch, with the exception that Irish whiskey is usually distilled three times instead of just twice. Considered to be a softer spirit because the peat is not used to dry the barley. Also seen as full flavored but not as smoky as Scotch.
American Whiskey – Aged in charred oak barrels, usually 51 % corn.
Sour Mash - Are made from a yeast mash soured with lactic culture for a minimum of six hours; the fermenter mash must contain at least 25% of the screened residue from the base of the whiskey still and the fermenting must be at least 72 hours.
“Bottled in Bond” – Products labeled with this phrase has been given government certification to contain 50 % alcohol and has been aged for at least four years.
“Straight Bourbon” – Means the product has been aged for at least two years and mixed with only water.
“Small Batch Bourbon” – Refers to the few select barrels in the aging house in which the distiller values as superior to the rest of the batch.
“Single barrel Bourbon” – Refers to the one barrel in the aging house in which the distiller deems as superior.
Variations of Whisk(e)y
Using four steps produces whiskey: mashing, fermentation, distilling and aging. Whiskey can be produced from any grain but usually it calls for corn, barley, or wheat. Alcohol must first be derived from the sugar. The starch content of the grain must first be converted to grain sugar. To accomplish this, the grain is ground, cooked and mixed with barley malt. The enzymes of the malt take over and convert the grain starches to maltose of grain sugars. During the fermentation process, the grain sugars are put into the fermenter and yeast is added to the mixture. Yeast is a living organism; its purpose is to feed on the sugars and eventually produce the product of whiskey. The fermentation process takes two to four days. Distilling is based on the fact that virtually all liquids, if heated, will boil at slightly different temperature. The still produces the whiskey. Distilling is accomplished by pumping the preheated liquid mash down through the baffle plates. At the same time, steam that enters at the bottom of the still is rising through the baffle plates. In constant contact with the mash, the steam distills and redistills the liquids as it rises and is finally passed through the top of the still and where the liquid is then cooled. Aging is accomplished by passing the whiskeys through charcoal after which the whiskeys are barreled and laid away. After years in the barrel, the whiskey is given its color. No one exactly knows what happens in the barrel!
40 – 50 % Alcohol By Volume
For Centuries the Irish and Scottish have fought over who the creator of Whiskey or Whisky. The Irish spell it whiskey, while the Scottish spell it whisky. There is very little difference between the Irish and Scottish version of whiskey. Once whiskey grew to other areas like Canada and the United States, more of a difference began. Canadians took the name from the Scottish (whisky) and the United States took the name from the Irish (whiskey). Soon whiskey was sent up from Bourbon County Tennessee and bourbon was born. However, now the separation begins. Scotch is believed to be in a class of it’s own, as does Irish whiskey, Canadian whisky, American whiskey, Tennessee whiskey, and bourbon.