From peat to tobacco, we break down the jargon
The world of whisky is complex and while we may not be able to break it all down, we can start with some basic jargon. Essentially, whisky is distilled from a fermented grain mash consisting of barley, corn, rye or wheat, and aged in barrels for anywhere from just a few years to decades.
When sprouted grain (usually barley) is toasted over a peatre to make malt, it absorbs the smoky avour.
Single malt must be made from 100 per cent malted barley, which is malted, milled and mashed at a single distillery. The starch in the grain transforms into sugar and then into alcohol, thanks to added yeast.
This term originated from Scotland and refers to a single serving of whisky. How big a serving? That depends on who’s pouring!
LONG SHORT FINISH
Much like it is with wine, a whisky’s nish is how long it lingers in the mouth and is one of the most de ning factors of quality. Look at the length of time the taste of whisky lingers and what is left of the avour.
Whisky can reveal many surprising avours: fruity, owery, spicy, sweet, smoky. Among these avours there are wild variations that can be subtle or enhanced, depending on the style and character of the whisky.
To name a few, there’s woodsmoke, leafy, leathery, tobacco, cigar-box and vanilla. For a fun game, pour a few di erent drams of whisky and see if you can identify the variety of aromas.
Consider the di erent avours and aromas you can identify.
Is it simple or complex? Too easy!
• John Jameson, the founder of Jameson Irish Whiskey (as it’s spelt in Ireland/USA), was Scottish.
• All whisky essentially starts out as beer before it’s distilled.
• The Glen ddich whisky bottle is triangular to represent the three pillars of making whisky: air, water and barley.