Let's Lift Your SpiritThursday, March 25, 2021
with Raihn Sibblies
March 27th is I nternational Whisk(e)y Day and was first announced in 2008. Making whiskey starts off in the same way that beer does — with a mash of grains — commonly barley, corn, rye, or wheat. Some may also be malted — like barley. The grains are mixed with water and yeast for fermentation, which converts the starches to sugars that become alcohol. Then the beer is run through a still — either a pot still or a continuous column still — that heats the liquid into a concentrate vapour. The result? A high-proof clear distillate. Almost all whiskey is then barrel-aged for at least a few years, imparting oak and wood flavours, darkening the liquor, and mellowing out the harsh alcohol. The whiskey is then blended with other barrels or differe888nt styles of whiskey.
What's it taste like? Each style and brand will have different flavour characteristics and hit differently on your palate. Typically though, whiskey has grainy, woody, oaky taste with notes of caramel, vanilla, fruits, and spice. Some whiskies make you feel the harsh alcohol burn while others are super-smooth. Each style of whiskey has its own characteristics.
Blended Whiskey: Simply, it's a blend of various aged whiskies distilled from different types of grains.
• Chivas Regal, Est 1786. Locale: Strathisla distillery at Keith, Moray in Speyside, Scotland, and is the oldest continuously operating highland distillery. Chivas Regal is a blended Scotch whisky produced by the Chivas Brothers. Smooth-Rich-Generous. Chivas 12 is a classic for a reason. Made up of the finest malt and grain Scotch whiskies, this 12-year-old blended Scotch whisky is our signature blend — and never fails to deliver. Iconic Speyside flavours lie at the core of this 12-year-old blend. Crisp orchard fruits, wild heather and sweet honey are the result of years of craft at the hands of the master blenders. Over the years they've maintained the classic taste created in the 19th century by the pioneers of blended Scotch whisky, founders John and James Chivas. Nose: An aromatic infusion of wild herbs, heather, honey, and orchard fruits. Taste: Round and creamy with a full, rich taste of honey and ripe pears alongside vanilla, hazelnut, and butterscotch notes. Finish: Rich and lingering. Cask finish: A variety of casks is used for maturation of the 12-year-old Scotch whiskies that make up this blend, leading to a greater depth and character. Awards for Chivas Regal 12 — 2018 — Gold — International Spirits Challenge; 2019 — Silver — International Wine & Spirit Competition; and 2020 — Gold — International Spirits Challenge. Because success is a blend, in life and in Scotch.
Single Malt Whiskey: This is a whiskey that is produced at a single distillery using a single malted grain. Single malts can be found in Scotch, Irish and Japanese whiskies, and whiskies from other countries.
• The Glenlivet, est 1822 locale: Speyside — distilled in Strathspey, the area around the River Spey in Moray and Badenoch and Strathspey, in north-eastern Scotland. The Glenlivet Founders Reserve Single Malt Scotch Whisky, est 1824, is as smooth and fruity as the whisky that first ran from the original copper pot stills. It is then matured in traditional oak casks imparting its own distinct characteristics. The Glenlivet had no age statements and was created by selecting whisky from casks of a range of ages. This freedom is replicated with The Glenlivet Founder's Reserve, selecting whisky from a variety of traditional aged oak casks. Then, to lend a modern twist to the flavour of the expression, Master Distiller Alan Winchester marries together a selection of the aged oak casks and American first-fill oak casks. American first-fill oak casks have never before been used to mature whisky. Selective use of these casks provides a smooth, creamy sweetness that mingles harmoniously with the delicate flavours and complex fruity tones already present in the whisky.
• Glenmorangie, est 1843 locale: The original is the flagship single malt Scotch whisky from the Glenmorangie Distillery in the Highlands. First released more than 175 years ago the original Glenmorangie 10-year-old was known for its mellow beginnings and delicacy of flavour. Today, the original remains at the heart of everything. It is made in giraffe-high stills, then aged for 10 years in bourbon casks to absorb all manner of delectable flavours. The result is a smooth whisky which welcomes you with a rush of citrus, then holds your attention with layers of luscious flavour, from orange to honey and creamy vanilla, with bursts of peach. Aroma: Citrus and ripening peaches are balanced by vanilla softness. Taste: Vanilla emerges, then gives way to a burst of flowery fruitiness. Finish: A clean aftertaste with hints of orange and peach.
Irish Whiskey (with an “e”— it's “whisky” when it's from Scotland, England, Canada, or Japan): Why is it Irish? Well, a pretty stringent law that states that a spirit must spend a minimum of three years maturing on the island of Ireland, to be lucky enough to be able to call itself Irish. This style is known for being smooth, light, and drinkable.
• Jameson Irish Whiskey, est locally grown, Jameson Irish Whiskey is made by blending rich pot still whiskey made from both malted and unmalted barley, with the finest grain whiskey, both distilled three times for smoothness. Jameson Original — triple distilled, twice as smooth, one of a kind. Jameson Irish Whiskey is a blended Irish whiskey. First, the best of the pot still and fine grain whiskies are taken. Then we triple distil them — not because we have to but because we want to as it gives it its signature smoothness. Finally, we age them in oak casks for a minimum of four years. Nose: A light floral fragrance, peppered with spicy wood and sweet notes. Taste: The perfect balance of spicy, nutty and vanilla notes with hints of sweet sherry and exceptional smoothness.
Scotch Whisky: Just as the producers of Champagne must make their sparkling wine in the Champagne region of France before they can label it Champagne, distillers who want to call their product Scotch likewise must produce their whisky in Scotland. Scotch includes single malts and blended whiskeys. The signature taste is a smokiness that is imparted by drying the malt over a peat-fueled fire. The five areas most commonly used in reference to whisky are Speyside, Islay, Campbelltown, Lowlands, Highlands and Islands (Islands is often considered a region in its own right). The various regions produce Scotch with individual characteristics.
• Dewar's: The World's Most Awarded Blended Scotch Whisky, Est. 1846, Locale: Aberfeldy, nestled at the foot of the Scottish Highlands — Dewar's Caribbean Smooth — is a Scotch Whisky finished in rum casks. Dewar's Caribbean Smooth is a blend of up to 40 single malts and grain whiskies that have been aged for at least 8 years and then double aged, before being finished in ex Caribbean rum casks for up to six months, creating a Caribbean smooth finish. Flavour notes: Brown sugar, tropical fruits, and caramel. We cannot ignore the fact that Dewar's is the World's Most Awarded Blended Scotch Whisky, accumulating over a thousand awards to date.
• The Macallan, est 1824, locale: Speyside, Scotland — The Macallan Double Cask 12-Year-Old forms part of our Double Cask range which marries the classic Macallan style and the unmistakable sweetness of American oak. This is a fully rounded single malt in perfect balance, with flavours of honey, citrus and ginger.
• Bruichladdich (pronounced bru-kla-dee), est 1881, locale: located on the southwestern tip of the remote Hebridean island of Islay where they produce Bruichladdich - The Classic Laddie, Port Charlotte, and Octomore (super heavily peated) single malt whiskies. Bruichladdich is officially B Corp certified using business as a force for good. This means adhering to the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and accountability, or in other words, balancing profit and purpose.
Bourbon Whiskey: This style can only be made in America. It must be made from at least 50% corn, distilled to no more than 160 proof, barrelled no higher than 125 proof, and aged in new, charred oak barrels. Taste varies, though most bourbons have a robust flavour.
• Woodford Reserve, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, est 1812 and 13 Gold Medal Awards — The art of making fine bourbon first took place on the site of the Woodford Reserve Distillery, a National Historic Landmark. The perfectly balanced taste of our Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is comprised of more than 200 detectable flavour notes, from bold grain and wood, to sweet aromatics, spice, and fruit & floral notes. Nose: Heavy with rich dried fruit, hints of mint and oranges covered with a dusting of cocoa. Faint vanilla and tobacco spice. Taste: Rich, chewy, rounded, and smooth, with complex citrus, cinnamon and cocoa. Toffee, caramel, chocolate, and spice notes abound. Finish: Silky smooth, almost creamy at first with a long, warm satisfying tail.
• Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, 7 Gold Medal Awards — An innovative approach to twice-barrelled bourbon creates the rich and colourful flavour of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. Uniquely matured in separate, charred oak barrels — the second barrel deeply toasted before a light charring — extracts additional soft, sweet oak character. Nose: Rich notes of dark fruit, caramel, sharp honey, chocolate, marzipan, and toasted oak. Taste: A full-bodied mix of vanilla, dark caramel, hazelnut, apple, fruit, and spices. Finish:Long and creamy with lingering hints of honeyed apple.
Tennessee Whiskey: Initially, Tennessee Whiskey and Bourbon are made in the exact same way. They are both distilled from at least 51% corn and go into charred new oak barrels to age. In Tennessee, it gets charcoal filtered (Lincoln County Process) — which mellows the whiskey.
• Jack Daniel's Old No 7, est 1864: At Jack Daniels is probably the most famous Tennessee Whiskey producer and is charcoal-mellowed drop by drop through 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal. Sugar maple wood is soaked in 140-proof Jack, set on fire, and reduced to charcoal, which is ground into bean-sized pellets. New whiskey is then poured through the pellets and placed immediately into barrels then matured in their own handcrafted barrels. The Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey doesn't follow a calendar. It's only ready when their tasters say it is. It's judged it by the way it looks, its aroma, and of course, by the way it tastes. It's how Jack Daniel himself did it over a century ago. And how it is still done today. Jack Daniel's Old No 7 is a balance of sweet and oaky flavour.
Canadian Whisky: Canada is known for blended multi-grain whiskies containing a large percentage of corn and are among the lightest and smoothest in the world. Rye is a favourite grain, though whiskies that go into blends are made from a variety of grains. It's not uncommon for a Canadian whisky to use 20 or more ingredients — mostly whiskey, but also things like sherry — in a blend.
• Crown Royal Canadian Whisky, est, 1939 — Crown Royal Deluxe is the standard of excellence for Canadian whisky. It is an extraordinary blend of our finest whiskies, matured to perfection. Nose: Rich and robust, with slight hints of vanilla and fruit. Palate: Delicately smooth and creamy with hints of oak and the sweet flavor of vanilla. Finish:Long and lingering.
Rye Whiskey: There is no geographical designation to rye whiskey, though much of it is made in North America. Instead, it focuses on the use of rye; smaller portions of other grains may be used as well. Rye whiskeys tend to be bold and spicy.
• Woodford Reserve Rye uses a pre-prohibition style ratio of 53% rye in its mash bill to pay homage to history's original rye whiskies, making spice and tobacco the dominant note among a sea of fruit, floral, and sweet aromatics, which yields a nice sweetness and overall balance. Our rye whiskey can deliver complex flavours — neat, on ice, or in a cocktail. A balanced rye makes a more balanced cocktail. Nose: Spicy with distinct notes of rye, black pepper, cedar, and cassia bark sweetened with a dusting of marzipan. Hints of pear, apple, and almond dance in its depths. Taste: Clove, rye, mint, molasses, sorghum, and honey mingle together with hints of apple and malt. Finish: Long and sweetly spiced.
Japanese Whisky: Japan learned how to make whisky from Scotland, so the techniques and characteristics are very similar. It tends to focus on single malts with peaty flavours and they're considered to be very fine whiskies.
Moonshine: Also called “white dog” or, in Ireland, potcheen, moonshine is unaged whiskey. Basically, its raw whiskey straight out of the still (possibly diluted) without mellowness, colour, or extra flavours imparted by wood barrels. It was once relegated to backwoods stills and illegally made homemade liquor, but there is a growing legal market for it today.
How to Drink Whiskey
There is no wrong way to drink whiskey. The higher-end whiskies (eg, really old Scotch and specialty bourbons) are often enjoyed straight. Some people like their whiskey on the rocks while others add a splash of water. This can open up the aromas and flavours, particularly of high-proof whiskies. A shot of whiskey is popular, and it's often mixed into shooter recipes.
Whiskey is also found in countless cocktail recipes. That includes simple mixed drinks in which a shot of whiskey is topped with a light soda or cola in an ice-filled tall glass. It's also deftly dressed up with an orange, sugar, and bitters as in the old-fashioned. Manhattans are the whiskey equivalent to martinis and there are many variations on this dinner-worthy style. Whiskey also makes an appearance in sours, creamy and fruity cocktails, and is a favorite for hot drinks, including those with coffee and tea.
Let's have a virtual drink this Whiskey Weekend! Take a screenshot, share and tag @raihndrops using the hashtag #WhiskeyBusiness. Let's lift your Spirits! #savourresponsibly and enjoy!
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