So you finally landed at the big boy’s table. Your business is doing great and your partners couldn’t be happier. So you take them out for drinks. Since this is a special night, you decide to take it up a notch. Nope, no beer for you tonight. You can have that anytime anyway. You know the perfect drink of choice for this occasion. You have seen this image far too many times in movies and on television – a guy wearing a crisp suit holding a glass of this golden brown liquor. Yes, tonight you and the boys get to be that suave guy. So you man up and order what James Bond and Don Draper would, whiskey. If you are partial to a glass of whiskey once you’re home, you could have a look at these whiskey glasses, after all a whiskey lover can’t get enough different types of glasses.
But where do you start? How do you choose? Should you just wing it and go for the most expensive bottle? Before you get cut back on a few hundred bucks and make a total fool of yourself, here is safe advice – don’t act like you know it all. You are better off with trying to learn about what you don’t know anyway rather than be a pretentious know-it-all. Don’t fret though because you can always turn to your bartender for recommendations. But it is better to be equipped with the basics of this whiskey business.
WHAT IS WHISKEY?
Whiskey is distilled alcohol produced from fermented grain mash typically consisting of wheat, rye, oat, barley, and corn. Other grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, and faro can be used as well. These grains are then mixed with water and undergo the processes of malting, mashing, fermentation, and distillation before it becomes alcohol. The whiskey is then matured in wooden casks for years before it is ready for bottling.
Whiskey is derived from the Gaelic uisce beatha, which means “water of life.” Japanese bestselling author Haruki Murakami once said that whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it’s time to drink. He certainly is not wrong for saying so!
WHISKEY vs WHISKY
The oldest written record of whiskey’s popularity dates back in 1494. Since then, whiskey has skyrocketed that there has been a longstanding history whether the spelling should be whiskey or whisky.
Nowadays, the addition of the letter E merely suggests the liquor’s country of origin. To easily remember it, major players like Scotland, Canada, and Japan spell it as whisky. The other players such as England, Australia, Finland, Germany, and India follow it too. While only Ireland and the United States spell it as whiskey.
There are many factors that determine the variant of a whiskey – water, kinds of grains used, weather, distillery location, type of cask, and age among others. Consequently, there is more than one type of whiskey. If you want to build a solid foundation, you need to remember these three – scotch, rye, and bourbon.
Scotch whisky comes from, you guessed it, Scotland. There are five regions in Scotland that produce distinct flavors od whisky – Highlands, Campbeltown, Islay, Lowlands, and Speyside. Scotch whisky comes in two types (single malt and single grain) and three blends (blended malt Scotch, blended grain Scotch, and blended Scotch).