Pour yourself a glass while learning more about one of the world’s most popular spirits, whiskey.
Whiskey is a spirit distilled from malted grain. It takes many forms, ranging from clear to caramel to dark brown in color. This makes it easy for everyone to find a flavor profile that’s just right for their taste buds.
There are two widely used spellings of the spirit. Whiskey is the traditional Irish spelling (which is usually preferred in the United States), while whisky is commonly recognized as the Scottish spelling. Debate over whether whiskey originated in Scotland or Ireland continues to this day.
Whiskey is a distilled liquor, meaning it’s purified by removing diluting factors like water by heating up the mixture to increase the alcohol content. This is done through either pot still distillation or column still distillation. Next, the liquid is stored in wooden, usually oak, casks to mature. The maturation process must at least surpass the minimum number of years set by the country in which the distillery is located. The longer whiskey matures, the higher quality and more expensive it is.
Scotch, bourbon, Irish whiskey and Tennessee whiskey are different varieties that are named for the region in which they originated. Scotch is from Scotland, bourbon is from Bourbon County, Kentucky and so on.
The varieties of whiskey differ due to factors like their unique production and maturation processes, as well as their quality and alcohol content. For example, bourbon must contain at least 51% corn and be aged for at least four years, while rye whiskey contains at least 51% rye and must be matured for at least two years. Laws regulate the production and maturation of whiskey, establishing a standard for the spirit across the board.
Whiskey drinkers fall into a variety of categories depending on the flavors and aromas they prefer. Each type is complex in its makeup of qualities and impressions. Tastes can range from oakey to sweet, smoky to peaty, and creamy to spicy.
It’s important to appreciate the spirit as you drink it. This means turning whiskey drinking into an experience. Nosing is the process of swirling the whiskey around the glass and taking in a breath of its scents prior to taking a sip. Since humans have such a strong sense of smell, nosing provides the drinker with better insight into the traits of the whiskey than even taste can.
Whether you’re nursing a bourbon neat or sipping a Scotch on the rocks, make sure to get the most out of this spirit.
Come and Take It
Enjoy a new take on a classic old fashioned cocktail with this recipe from a Texas-based bourbon distillery.
• 1.5 ounces Garrison Brothers Small Batch Bourbon
• .75 ounce Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
• .75 ounce Grand Marnier
• 2 dashes of Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
• Black cherry & orange peel
Combine ingredients in a shaking tin and shake vigorously. Strain over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with a black cherry and an orange peel.