Finest Scotch Whisky

Which is the correct spelling whiskey (plural whiskeys) or whisky (plural whiskies) and what is the origin of the word(s). History tells us that the word whiskey – with the ‘e’ – was derived from the Irish Gaelic. The Irish Gaelic word "uisce beatha" was a translation from the Latin words "aqua vitae" meaning "Water of Life". Subsequently the ‘e’ was dropped from almost everywhere in the world where the ‘water of life’ was distilled. In the late 1800’s the Irish and the Americans chose to include the ‘e’ again to differentiate themselves from the products from Scotland. Today Scotland, Wales, Japan and Canada maintain the use of the word Whisky. Finally - Scotch is generally used to mean a whisky from Scotland and the Scots would say there is no other correct use of the word Scotch.

The whisky ‘map’ divides Scotland into a number of regions where the general characteristics of each of the distilled whiskies is similar. Fine Scotch whiskies are distilled in each of these regions:-

o - Highland

o - Speyside

o - Islay

o - Campbeltown

o - Lowland

Some of these areas have now been divided into sub categories or regions due to the size of the areas. In very general terms the areas to the west of Scotland have more areas of peat and as such many of the whiskies distilled in the areas have the ‘taste of peat’. This particularly true of Islay (a region in itself) where in excess of 20% of the island is peat.

The greater Speyside, in the North East of Scotland, houses more than half of all the distilleries in Scotland and two of the most famous and well know single malt whiskies are from Speyside distilleries – they are Glenfiddich and Glenlivet.

Whisky is created by distilling a ‘mash’ based on either grain or malt (malted barley). Hence we have the single malt – being for many people the true ’water of life’ and the regarded as the superior whisky. Grain (malted and un-malted barley along with other grains) based whiskies can be blended in such a way to generate further distinctive brands. However, a "Blend" may occasionally have a different interpretation. A mixture of malts (with no grain) from different distilleries (usually called a vatted malt) can be referred to as a "Blended Malt", and mixtures of grain whiskies with no malts will sometimes called a "Blended Grain".

For a whisky to be called a whisky it must have been as a minimum matured in oak casks for at least 3 years and one day. Although the casks should be oak the history of the casks can be varied. I understand that American Whiskeys are stored in ‘new’ oak casks – hence there is an obvious market for re-cycled casks. Other casks may have originated or been used for the storage of Sherry in Spain. Hence the history of the cask will be a defining part of the whisky’s characteristic. Another feature of Scotch whiskies is that they are almost always distilled twice (some three times). For any whisky to be called ‘Scotch’ it must conform to these criteria – and – perhaps more obviously - be distilled in Scotland.

By all means take the time to understand the history and how our fine Scotch whiskies originate but above all take the time to find your favourite tipple.

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About The Author, Peterhw
Fine ScotchWhiskies have been sought after and enjoyed for many years - take youropportunity to find out more about the "Waterof Life" whether it be a fine single malt or a carefully created blend.