The world of whisky is a wonderful place, from the subtle to the complex, there are a plethora of styles and avours to suit every palate – from the whisky beginner to the connoisseur. Join us on our journey to showcase our whiskies and guide you through the best ways to drink them, taste them and enjoy them.
You may not be a whisky connoisseur but don’t fear, here are some facts to make sure you never feel like a novice again.
Put simply, you can drink whisky however you please. A whisky purist would recommend two cubes of ice or a dash of water. But it’s more important to drink it the way you enjoy it most. Be it neat or with ice, water, cola, Irn-Bru – it’s totally up to you. You can even drink it standing on one leg if you like. Just make sure you haven't had too many first.
The principles for the distillation of whisky have changed little over the last 200 years. And despite technological advances, producing it is still a real art. Generations continue to pass on their skills, knowledge and wisdoms – one of which is, it can’t be rushed. Maturing helps give whisky its unique characteristics, flavour and colour, and the longer it matures for, often the better the quality.
It all starts by soaking the barley grain, which turns its starch reserves into fermentable sugars to make alcohol. To halt the process, the grain is dried. If peat is used at this stage, a distinctive smoky character makes its way.
The grains are then milled into a coarwn as grist, before being mixed with hot water in a mash tun to extract the sugars produced during the malting process. The end result is a sugary liquid called ‘wort’.
Yeast is added to the wort, which consumes the sugar and produces alcohol, heat and carbon dioxide. This turns the sweet wort into an alcoholic distiller’s beer, or ‘wash’, of around 7 – 10% ABV.
The wash is then distilled in a traditional pot still. The still is heated, causing the alcohol to evaporate into steam, which gets condensed back into a liquid with a higher level of alcohol. This process takes place twice. The end result is a clear ‘new make spirit’ at around 70 – 80% ABV.
The new make spirit is placed in wooden casks to mature. In Scotland, it must remain in a cask for a minimum of three years before it can legally be referred to as ‘Scotch whisky’. It’s often left for much longer to take on the colour and vour of the wood, which helps create the unique, complex characteristics.
When the Master Blender is happvtled. tillery where it was produced and, in some cases, how long it was matured for. If an age is given, it represents the youngest cask that was used to produce it. So a 10-year-old single malt will often contain some whisky that was aged for longer.
Scotland’s whisky-producing regions are as diverse as the wine regions of France.
They give us single malt whiskies with distinct qualities and characteristics borne out of their location, climate and hundreds of years of crafting.
The softer landscape is mirrored in the region’s single malts, which tend to be lighter in both colour and body than those of the Highlands. With little or no peat used in the drying of the malt, the whiskies distilled here are generally fresh and light, fragrant and vourings.
The Islands malts are unmistakably powerful and bursvour, from the recognised smokiness apparent in almost all offerings, to the more surprising notes, such as the black pepper found in Talisker.
Scotland’s largest whisky region boasts many different styles, from rich and textured to al. The large landscape of coastline, moor and mountain make many of these whiskies unique. From the coastal smoky Oban to the central honey notes of Dalwhinnie.
With its ‘Golden Triangle’ of distilleries - its clasvours of honey, vanilla and fresh fruits (apples, pears) combine to create whiskies that are both sophisticated and elegant. With age, and especially when matured in sherry casks, they evolve to deliver dried fruit and swvours.