Do you know what it is or how it is made this remarkable drink? That’s what we’re going to find out today!
Whiskey, or whiskey, is an abbreviation of the word usquebaugh and is made from distilled alcohol, grains and malt that is aged in barrels. Its alcohol content ranges from 38 to 54% at temperatures of 20ºC. The interesting thing about this drink is that it is highly regulated and has denominations of origin, classes and types. But what they all have in common is the fermentation of the grains and also the distillation in a maximum of 80% of alcohol to corn and 90% of alcohol to other grains, all before adding water, so that the flavors of the grains are well intensified before alcoholization.
Now, an essential detail is its aging in the barrels since the drink gains 60% of its flavor during this period. Here comes the difference of each class since everything depends on the type of wood used and also on the quality of “buckling” and the burning of matter. A good example is the Bourbon Whiskey which is legally required to be aged in flamboyant oak barrels. Let’s get to know some types of whiskey.
Most Common Whiskey Types:
Scotch: Pure Malt, Blended, single malt, vatted, grain whiskey.
North American: Blended bourbon, light
USA, Canada and Ireland: Rye-whiskey
The basic difference between them is in the cereals used and the alcohol content, both are very variable and used as a basis in each recipe. Thus, a unique taste is achieved in each type.
The differences between Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Irish whiskey and … Japanese whiskey
Distilleries began to officially appear in Scotland around the 17th century, but the books tell that cereal distillates were already tasted by King James IV in the early 14th century. The country was famous for making malt-based whiskeys and grains as wheat, rye and corn. To enter the Scotch Whiskey category, the drink, whether it be single malt or blended, needs to be distilled and matured only in Scotland, and the ripening process must take at least three years.
Another factor that characterizes the body of Scottish whiskeys is double distillation and maturation in barrels previously used by Sherry and American oak wines. Already the flavor and the aroma depend a lot on the region (in all there are six) where it was produced. In Lowlands, the whiskeys are little full bodied and with a floral touch. The distillates manufactured in the highlands vary between smoked, salted and marine. Those coming from the Speyside region in the far north, a Highlands subdivision that houses more than 50% of Scottish distilleries and from which classic single malts such as Glenfiddich and The Macallan come out, are the most sweet and fruity. Another prominent area is Islay Island, famous for smoked whiskeys, such as Laphroaig, which carries a strong aroma and flavor of peat, notes of iodine and a characteristic medicinal flavor.
For beginners looking for something less intense, the good ordered are the Irish Whiskys. Because they are made from a mixture of non-smoked and unroasted barley, the whiskey produced in Ireland is fruity and slightly spicy. In addition, the Irish Whiskey is triple distilled, which makes it softer. Most of the Irish whiskeys are matured in American oak barrels or Jerez wine, although some brands like Jameson also use virgin American oak barrels to add more sweetness and complexity.
Bourbon and TENNESSEE
Before the middle of the 19th century, European colonizers already consumed distillates based on molasses, wheat and rye. Without the barley and peat used in Scotland, they paved the way for new experiences and eventually bumped into corn, to this day the main raw material in American whiskey production. The distillate made in the USA currently has two main variants: Bourbon and Tennessee. The first must have at least 51% maize in the composition, be matured in virgin American oak barrels and may have a mix of matured distillates during different periods. Following these rules and techniques, it keeps notes of vanilla, caramel, coconut and spices. Good examples are Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve and Wild Turkey. Tennessee is virtually dominated by a single producer, Jack Daniel’s. The method of production is identical to Bourbon, but before being put to maturity, it undergoes a process of filtration in a species of molasses, which adds an even sweeter flavor.
Almost extinct in the 1990s, Rye Whiskey is the new “whoops” of mixologists. When made in the United States, the distillate has the same Bourbon rule, but its revenue takes 51% of rye instead of corn, in the case of Hudson Manhattan, Whistle Pig and Knob Creek. When produced in neighboring Canada, there are no restrictions on the grain mix to be used. What matters is that the result always has spicy and fruity flavor, ideal for cocktails.
The youngest of the whiskeys, the Japanese in less than a century of history managed to pass the leg in traditional manufacturers, receiving last year the title of best in the world. Since 1923, the Yamazaki distillery (immortalized in the film Meetings and Disenchants) produces whiskeys of Scottish inspiration, but with some distinct details that make all the difference, like the process of more prolonged fermentation and the maturation, that besides barrels of Bourbon and wine Jerez, also passes through barrels of Japanese oak. In addition to the award-winning Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask, it’s worth sampling the 17-year-old Hibiki blend with notes of honey, vanilla, caramel and raisins.