There is nothing like a good single malt whisky on a rainy evening in Scotland. You will find a lot of books about whisky. Most of these books are written by experts on whisky. Most of them are not written in "english" if you understand me. There is a lot of snobbery in the whisky industry and "you are not worthy of our attention" attitude towards those people who are interested in knowing more about whisky. I hope that this feature will make the world of whisky a bit more "down to earth" and not so exclusive. I am by no means an expert on this matter. I hope this feature will give you a sort of an idea about what whisky is. That's why I have done this.
O V E R V I E W
Some of you might have had a bad experience with cheap, awful whisky who has left a bitter taste in your mouth. You have bought one of the cheap whiskies who are giving whisky a bad name. If this has put you off whisky for life; you have lost out on some fantastic experiences.
When you buy whisky; ALWAYS buy the world wide recognized brands. DO NOT go for cheap, unknown brands. I will give you names on some good brands during this article.
I have tried to make this article easy to understand, even for those who have no experience with neither Scotland or whisky. This article is not written by an expert, for experts. I has tried to simplify the mysteries of whisky as good as I can. I have included some links at the bottom of this page for those who are interested in more information about whisky and Scotland.
With all respect for wine and cognac; high quality whisky is the most complex form of drink you can poor down your throat. It is a very expensive drink. The alcohol level in whisky is between 40 % and 60 %.
There is two types of Whisky:
1. Single Malts
Single Malt whisky is product of one distillery. 95 % of all distilleries are situated in remote parts of Scotland. These rural districts are commonly known as The Highlands. This part of Scotland are one of the most beautiful parts of this planet. The scenery are breathtaking and attract millions of tourists every summer. In every valley (or "glens" as valleys are called in Gaelic) of The Highlands; you will find one or more distilleries. Single Malt Whisky is a direct product of the scenery around the distillery. I do not want to go more in details about how the whisky is produced. It is described in details at the links at the bottom of this page. But let me just say that the most important ingredient in whisky, are malt. The nature of the spring the distillery takes the water from, are also very important. If the spring goes through an area full of grass and flowers; you get a light, grassy whisky with hints of citrus - fruit. If the spring runs through a peatbog, you get a strong aromatic whisky.
A good single malt is between 10 and 35 years old. The whisky is put in wood barrels in a warehouse after the production of the whisky in this period to mature. Every whisky get most of itís taste through this period in the warehouse. But the whisky is by no means dead in the wood barrel. It breathe and purify itself throughout the whole stay in the wood barrel. If the warehouse is situated in the mountains; the whisky will get a clean, light taste. If the warehouse are situated down at the rugged coast of Scotland; the whisky will get a very strong taste, with some tones of salt water and sea weed. Single malt whisky are a true product of
the scenery in Scotland.
You can without hesitation buy any single malt whisky older than 10 years old. They are all pieces of magic. There is around 35 single malt distilleries in Scotland and everyone of them has itís very own character.
Every one of them are recommended. Some of them are very hard to find.
Blended whisky are blend of grain whisky and between 20- 40 different brands of single malt whisky. Grain whisky are produced at the same way as Vodka. It takes around 10 days to produce grain whisky. It is then blended with single malt whisky, in some closely guarded recipes. Some of these recipes are over 100 years old and they are guarded more careful than the gold in Fort Knox. There are a lot of very cheap blended whisky brands who simply taste like shit. The reason is that the proportion of grain are very high in the blend. Avoid these brands at all cost. Good brands are Ballantineís, J & B Rare, White Horse, Black & White, Johnny Walkerís, Dewarís, Teacherís, Chivas Regal, Bellís, Famous Grouse, Whyte & Mackay, Black Bottle, Vat 69, Cutty Sark, Isle Of Skye and Haig. Avoid all other blended whisky brands.