6 Cool Things I Learned About Whisky
It’s True Origins
The Scots claim the fame on this one but I discovered the origins could have been in Ireland back in the 5th Century when Monks began distilling spirits.
The earliest known record of distilling malt dates back to 1494. From the royal finances accounting records, there is an entry of the purchase of ingredients to make whisky:
“Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae.”
Aqua Vitae is Latin for Water of Life.
For a whisky refresher, see World Whisky Day post.
It’s Beer Origins
The differences between scotch and beer is in the method of production. The ingredient is the same: Malted Barley.
Hops are added to beer and distilled once.
Scotch has been distilled twice and aged in oak barrels. Some of the barrels come from Bourbon distillers in the Kentucky region.
There are over 100 distilleries in Scotland alone where Scotch is produced.
1 billion bottles of scotch is exported annually from Scotland.
Who receives all this?
France takes in the most at 200 million bottles per year.
The United States are second at 120 million bottles per year.
With so many scotch and whisky distilleries all over the world, I will limit the list to 5, choosing them based on originality and charm.
Touristy type? Try the Scotch Whisky Experience, complete with the barrel ride.
In 1886, William Grant began construction, with the help of his 7 sons and 2 daughters, of the stone building to house the first true single malt whisky.
He named it Glenfiddich, Gaelic for Valley of the Deer. One year later, they completed construction.
And on Christmas Day in 1887, the first batch was ready. This company is the owner of the longest aged scotch, at 64 years, which was bottled in 2001.
The distillery is a five mintute drive north of Dufftown. You could easily walk the distance. Airbnb has a wealth of places to stay, including a treehouse!
No need to include a link for accommodations, they ARE the accommodations!
All you need are directions for the 7 minute drive from Dornoch Firth to the distillery.
Talisker is one of the oldest Single Malt Scotch Whisky distilleries in production by the ocean, on the shores of Loch Harport in the rugged region of Isle of Skye.
Stay at an airbnb by the water in Carbost to get the full experience. It’s a 5 minute walk to the Talisker “island” distillery.
Blended – the most commonly made Scotch. It is a mix of grain and malt barley which could be anywhere between 15 and 50 types of whisky blended in.
Single Malt – made from 100% malted barley at a single distillery.
Blended Single Malt – this will be a mixture of single malts. If the age statement looks like this: 10/12/18 – it means they are a blend of aged grains.
Single Grain – these are fillers in the blends which keep the price down. If you’re spending hundreds of dollars on a scotch, it won’t contain this.
Single Cask – made in one single batch in several casks within the same distillery.
There’s that rule again. It can only be called scotch if it has been aged in a cask minimum 3 years then bottled in Scotland.
Well, it used to be. In 1725 scotch was declared illegal. The English Malt Tax shut down production. Bootlegging became the preferred choice and back then, the quality wasn’t even that good.
The high demand meant transporting the spirit which took some time. While wood barrels journeyed downstream, the liquid aged. Lucky for the recipients. They switched to oak for its durability.
What an improvement!
It’s Outrageously Priced!
The most expensive bottle sold: Macallan, at a Hong Kong auction for $628,205.
Another bottle of Macallan, a 64 year old Lalique, sold at an auction in Sothebey’s, New York for $460,000.
Lalique is the name of the designer of the unique glass bottle.
Ask for a shot of Glenmorangie and you’ll be $450 CDN out of pocket.
What are they putting in this stuff?
On my road of discovery of the amazing taste of bourbon last month, I began to appreciate scotch a little more.
Try your scotch with a couple drops of room temperature water. It really does open up something within the spirit.
Skip the ice cube, it will only mask the flavour.
Consider organic. Benromach is located in Forres in the Speyside region along the coast of the North Sea, a 3 hour drive from Carbost if you’re doing a distillery tour.
Find a quaint place in town or in any of the outlying areas. Mosset Tavern sits on the banks in Moray. From what I’ve seen, many brands of scotch come from this region. Might be worth looking into!
To quickly get around Scotland, try Ryanair instead of the train, it can be much cheaper. Remember to book exactly 3 months to the day ahead of time. Some flights are as low as 20 euros. Aberdeen is the closest airport if you’re seeing any of the above sights.
This post is dedicated to my Scottish family in California, The Ratcliffe-Slater Clan, my lovers of Scotch.
Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on July 27, 2017