Is whiskey good for you
Whiskey variety guide - how to find the right whiskey for you
A whiskey type guide would have made my entry into the world of whiskey much easier. I've been interested in spirits for a long time. I am enthusiastic about the production, the ingredients used and of course the flavors that arise through the entire production and storage process. It was only a matter of time before whiskey became my focus. At the beginning I had absolutely no idea.
I drove a few kilometers to visit a well-stocked whiskey shop in order to consciously buy my first bottle of whiskey. So there I was, in front of a shelf full of whiskeys, simple, fancy, expensive and cheap. And almost something else was written on it everywhere. What the hell does single malt, scotch single malt, bourbon or rye whiskey mean?
I should have prepared better and not naively driven this long distance for the one whiskey that offers me the whole whiskey world.
Almost out of shame I packed three whiskeys. That was of course totally over my budget and didn't let the feeling of charm go by on the way home.
So there they were, the first three whiskey bottles in my life that I wanted to use to dig deeper into the subject. I remember it like today. It was a Balvenie Double Wood, a Laphroaig 10 years and a Glenfarclas 15 years.
Whiskey variety guide
So I had no idea what kind of whiskey they were exactly, how they taste and how I should even taste them properly. But I can tell you one thing in advance: To this day I have acquired all kinds of whiskey knowledge and can give you a few tips. For example in this guide article, which should bring you closer to the whiskey basics and whiskey types.
If you take a little time and read this quite detailed guide to whiskey types, you will find it easier to find the right whiskey for you.
To start with, it is extremely important that you can tell the difference between the many different types of whiskey. These varieties are divided into:
- Origin of the whiskey
- The way in which the whiskey is made and stored
Let's start with the origin and what it says about the whiskey.
What the origin of a whiskey reveals about its taste
The origin of a whiskey already provides important information about its aromas. The reason for this is the sometimes different raw materials and types of storage that have become established in the various whiskey nations.
The largest whiskey nations include:
Germany is also emerging as an emerging whiskey nation with many great and new distilleries. Compared to the other whiskey nations, Germany cannot yet keep up. Therefore we will - unfortunately - leave our home country out of this whiskey variety guide.
The differences within the whiskey nations
Scotland is the whiskey country par excellence and everyone should be familiar with it. The oldest whiskey distilleries and most of the whiskey varieties can be found in Scotland. And that on a relatively small area.
The term "Scotch" stands for Scotland and only whiskey that is produced in Scotland may have Scotch on the bottle label.
No other whiskey has such regional flavors as Scotch whiskey. Because Scotland can be divided into 5 whiskey regions. The Highlands, the Lowlands, the Speyside, the Isles and Campbeltwon. There are different distilleries in all regions, which not only distill different whiskeys because of the technology and raw materials available. In particular, the climate within the regions influences the aromas of the whiskeys.
Incidentally, most of the single malts come from Scotland. So whiskeys that come from just one single distillery.
Irish whiskey or Irish whiskey already differs in the spelling. Because Irish whiskey is always written with an "e". In doing so, the Irish distilleries wanted to stand out from the competition from Scotland. But the whisk (e) y is not only different in the spelling. In Scotland, malted barley is used, which is then subjected to an extensive drying process. In Ireland, unmalted barley is used in addition to malted barley. In addition, the kiln is often omitted and the grain is only dried in an oven. As a result, the Irish whiskey lacks the peaty, smoky aromas that are otherwise known from a Scottish whiskey.
Furthermore, Irish whiskey is usually distilled three times in order to achieve the greatest possible purity and smoothness. Scottish whiskey, on the other hand, is usually only distilled twice.
In Ireland you can mostly find blend whiskey, which means that different distillates from different distilleries are mixed together in this whiskey.
You have probably noticed the spelling of the American whiskey right away. Because this is also written with an "e". This is because Ireland imported significantly more whiskey to America from Scotland. But not only that, the number of Irish emigrants to the new "countries" also come mainly from Ireland.
If you think of American whiskey, the well-known whiskeys from Jack Daniels or Jim Beam will certainly come to your mind. These are traditional bourbon whiskeys.
As the name suggests, they are stored in bourbon barrels. Incidentally, it is legally stipulated that each bourbon barrel may only be used once in whiskey production. For the storage of new whiskey, new, never-before-filled bourbon barrels are always used.
Canada orients itself very closely to the regulations of the Scotch Whiskey Accociation in the production of whiskey. The reasons for this go back a long way in history. As you have already learned, Ireland has imported its whiskey very heavily into the USA. Scotland also wanted a strong sales partner in the “new world” and ended up importing a lot of whiskey to Canada.
But there is one major difference in Canadian whiskey. Because in Canada whiskeys can be changed by adding flavorings and neutral alcohol.
Japanese whiskey is also very much based on Scotland. So strong that often entire shiploads of high-quality whiskey from Scotland are bought up and then blended with Japanese whiskey.
Whiskey has not been distilled that long in Japan. It wasn't until 1923 that the first Japanese whiskey distillery opened in Yamazaki.
Masataka Taketsuru learned the burner craft in Scotland and brought his knowledge to the company in Yamazaki as a manager for more than 10 years.
The biggest difference between Japanese whiskey and those from Scotland is that the Scots tend to prefer single malt. The Japanese tend to prefer blends.
You have now learned a lot about the world's leading whiskey nations. You know the small, subtle differences in production and legal regulations. But now it's time for the canned. Because now we're taking all the whiskey sorts to our chest.
You should know these 13 types of whiskey
Single malt whiskey
Single malts is by far the best-known whiskey variety and is highly valued by lovers. Many whiskey beginners assume that this type of whiskey is a whiskey from just one barrel.
However, single malt stands for completely different whiskeys from different vintages, but they all come from the same distillery. If a year, i.e. the storage time of the whiskey, is given on the bottle label, then this stands for the most recent whiskey used.
An example: If you buy a Laphroaig 10 years old, then this whiskey could well contain quite old whiskey of 16, 18 or 25 years. Only the youngest whiskey used is “only” 10 years old.
The specialty of the single malt is also the use of exclusively malted barley. The result is a very high quality and pure spirit whose primary aromas come from the barley.
Single grain whiskey
With this type of whiskey, too, the word single describes that the whiskey may only come from one distillery. To produce the single grain whiskey, however, different whiskeys from the distillery may be blended with one another.
The word grain informs us that this whiskey does not have to be distilled exclusively from barley. Other types of grain and even a mixture can therefore be used.
Since barley is an excellent type of grain with many advantages not only for brewing beer but also for distilling, a certain amount of barley malt is usually used in a grain whiskey.
Single cask whiskey
Now we come to the type of whiskey that many whiskey beginners confuse with a single malt. Because the single cask whiskey actually only comes from a barrel from a distillery.
Most of the time these whiskeys are sold at a high price, but the demand is also very high. Because with a single cask whiskey, you get the unadulterated taste of a whiskey without it being blended with other whiskeys.
Also the fact that there is only one barrel and that this one whiskey can never be produced again due to the natural storage in wooden barrels, single cask whiskeys are always limited.
Blended whiskeys are well represented all over the world. Most of the whiskeys you can get in a supermarket are blended whiskeys.
But what does that mean? Blended means that the whiskey has been blended from many different whiskeys or, more specifically, married.
Unlike a single malt, the whiskeys for the production of a blend can come from different distilleries.
Big brands that do not make whiskey themselves have made it their own to buy up whiskey from many distilleries in order to blend and sell a whiskey themselves.
The bar scene and cocktail bars in particular are lucrative buyers for such blends.
When producing blended whiskey, it is therefore also allowed to mix malt whiskey with grain whiskey. This is one of the reasons why the blend has a rather bad reputation, as the less good whiskeys from different distilleries are often blended together.
Blended whiskey actually only have one function. They serve as the whiskey variety par excellence for many cocktails and drinks. They can be produced quickly and you don't have to wait several years for a single malt or single cask to have the perfect aroma.
But there are also very tasty blended whiskeys that deserve to be drunk neat and not mixed with juices or lemonades.
Blended malt whiskey
A sub-variety of the blended whiskey is the blended malt whiskey. If you have read our whiskey type guide carefully so far, you probably already know what is special about this whiskey. Exactly. Blended malt whiskey may only be made from different numbers of malt whiskeys that have been distilled only from malted barley. But here, too, the single malts may come from different distilleries.
Bourbon is the classic American whiskey and has a market share of over 90% in the USA. The Bourbon is subject to strict regulations.
On the one hand, it must be made from at least 51% corn and, on the other hand, it must be stored in new "first-fill" Bourbon barrels. First-fill means that the barrels used for storage have never been filled with other whiskey or spirits.
Further requirements are the alcohol content, which must not exceed 80% during production and no more than 62.5% at the beginning of ripening. And theoretically, a whiskey that has only been stored for one day in a wooden barrel can be called bourbon whiskey.
Straight bourbon whiskey
If you want to be on the safe side and treat yourself to a bourbon whiskey that was allowed to be stored in a wooden barrel for a certain period of time, look to Straight Bourbon whiskey. According to the law, this must mature in oak barrels for at least 2 years.
As a rule, bourbon and straight bourbon whiskeys stay in oak barrels for more than 2 years.
Rye Whisk (e) y
Rye whiskey or rye whiskey is produced in all of the presented whiskey nations. Therefore you will find different spellings for this variety - with "e" and without "e". However, the eye whiskey is mainly produced in America. There it is also stipulated that this whiskey must have a rye content of at least 51%. In Canada, on the other hand, there are no laws for the production of rye whiskey on the contrary. For reasons steeped in history, every whiskey in Canada can even be called “rye”, regardless of whether rye was used or not. So if you want to be able to get a Canadian original rye whiskey you have to know a little bit.
The use of rye in the production of whiskey gives it completely different flavors. Compared to other whiskeys, rye whiskey taste significantly spicier, drier and more bitter.
Single barrel whiskey
A single barrel whiskey has the same type of whiskey or the same properties as a single cask whiskey. So it is a whiskey that was bottled from just one barrel.
The whiskey variety Single Barrel Whiskey is more likely to be found in America, whereas the Single Cask variety can be found in Scotland. There are therefore actually only differences in the spelling.
Corn whiskey is made almost exclusively in the USA. But even there it is more of a marginal variety among the many types of whiskey. Corn is the grain used in the production of corn whiskey. The proportion of maize is stipulated, a considerable amount of 80%.
And again we are in the USA, where a whiskey is made from almost every type of grain, for which a different type was then named.
Wheat whiskey is made from wheat, but there are no regulations as to how large the wheat content should be.
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