Monday, March 21, 2011

Whiskey Or Whisky...Who Cares ?


I thought that this morning I would give a little lesson about a subject that many folks may be familiar with...WHISKEY!

I know that some of you may be saying "that's the wrong spelling" but listen to this...it actually can be spelled correctly in two different ways! See? Already confusing and we haven't even had a taste yet! Isn't that special?

Wait, is it "whiskey" or "whisky"?

It's both. "Whiskey" is the Irish spelling (used in Ireland and the US), while "whisky" is the Scotch spelling (used in Scotland, Canada and Japan). Whichever spelling, the origin of the word goes back to both Ireland and Scotland. Uisge beatha or usquebaugh is Gaelic for "water of life." It was translated from the Latin aqua vitae, used to describe spirits.

How are the different kinds of whiskeys made?

Generally, whiskey is made by (1) crushing grains (barley, corn, rye, wheat, etc.) to create the grist, (2) adding water to create the mash (3) boiling this mixture and then allowing it to cool, (4) adding yeast, which carries out fermentation by eating the sugars to create alcohol, (5) draining the resulting liquid, which is now beer, and then distilling using a still, and (6) aging the resulting liquor in wooden barrels.

Here's how the different varieties are made:

Scotch is made from water and malted barley (ie. barley that's been steeped in water to trigger germination), distilled to less than 94.8% alcohol, aged for at least three years in oak barrels that can hold no more than 700 liters, and bottled at no less than 40% alcohol. No additives are allowed except for water and caramel colouring. By law, it can only be called scotch if it follows this process and is made in Scotland.

"Single malt" scotch is made from malted barley in a single distillery while "single grain" is made from malted barley and other grains in a single distillery. "Blended" scotch is a mix of whiskys/eys from multiple distilleries.

Irish whiskey is distilled to less than 94.8% alcohol and aged for at least three years in wooden barrels. By law, whiskey can only be called Irish whiskey if it follows this process and is made in Ireland.

Bourbon is made from a mash of at least 51% corn, distilled to 80% alcohol, combined with water to get the alcohol content down to 62.5%, entered into an unused charred oak barrel, aged in that barrel, and then bottled at no less than 40% alcohol. By law, whiskey can only be called bourbon if it is made by this process and in the United States.

Tennessee whiskey is bourbon made in the state of Tennessee and filtered through sugar-maple charcoal. Other American whiskey includes versions made from rye, corn, barley and other grains. Blended American whiskey is a mix of 20% American whiskey and 80% neutral spirit.

Well, I do hope this little lesson helps you some. Maybe so, but probably not! I do know this...regardless of what you call it or what kind you may like, sometimes just a touch in your coffee in the morning helps to serve as an eye opener!

Speaking of coffee, why don't we grab a fresh cup and sit out on the patio this morning!

16 comments:

2 Tramps said...

Thanks so much for the education. So interesting! Last fall we made a return visit to the Jack Daniels distillery. Not much had changed in the last 20 years other than a new visitors center. Guess you can't/don't need to change perfection...

HermitJim said...

Hey 2 Tramps...
Visiting the Jack Daniels distillery is like going back in time! Some things are best left unchanged!

I sure am glad you could drop by today!

Rae said...

Thanks so much for the lesson - I'm raising my glass of "real" Irish whiskey to you.

JoJo said...

Oh my I think I have a hang over. lol Very interesting. I am not one to drink hard stuff. I turned wimpy quite a few years ago.
I would love some coffee on the patio before the therapist shows up, only 2 more sessions with her and I am done but still need to work it out everyday on my own.

bigbadsis@gmail.com said...

I never liked the taste of any of the above mentioned "stuff" but I do so enjoy the lessons you frequently teach (or lectures presented, etc.). I suppose I should visit the Jack Daniels distillery since I am rather close, by Texas standards anyway. The free samples (if any) would be wasted on me though.
Love ya.

Bob from Athens said...

Dang, all of a sudden I have this thirst for something, now what could it be?

HermitJim said...

Hey Rae...
Thanks for the toast this morning! I'll take all I can get!

You have a great day, and thanks for coming by today!


Hey JoJo...
You just keep plugging away at that work out, sweetie, and soon you'll be in shape to take a little camping trip!

Proud of you for the work, Dear!

Thanks for coming by today!


Hey Sis...
Glad you never acquired a taste for the hard stuff! To expensive to like very often, that's for sure!

I think a visit to the Jack D. house would be an interesting trip for ya!

I appreciate you coming by today!


Hey Bob...
Why, I can't even imagine what you could be thirsty for!

When I used to drink, I always had it straight with very little ice! To me, that seemed to be the best way!

I really appreciate the visit today!

tffnguy said...

HJ, very informative lesson here. Thanks. I didn't know any of that. I did know I like it all, but am out so had to use a shot of Hot Damn 100 in my coffee instead. Too much of that will close your eyes instead of open them though. ;)

Mayberry said...

After that it should be Irish coffee this morning! I've got a few designs for stills amongst my stacks of DIY literature. If I ever get out into the country I'm gonna build one!

HermitJim said...

Hey Tffnguy...
No matter what you use to brace up the morning coffee, as long as it works...that's what counts, I reckon!

I'm beginning to miss my morning pick me ups a little more here as of late!

Hey, thanks for coming by today, my friend!


Hey Mayberry...
A little Irish coffee does seem to be in order, doesn't it?

Thanks, buddy, for coming over today!

Ted said...

Cognac, France ~ Denison, Texas
A little trivia ,The spirits made me think of this Sister Cities At Last!
~ A Century of Friendship ~
Over 100 years ago, Cognac, France and Denison, Texas shared two citizens with the world to solve a major destructive force: the grapevine destroyer, phylloxera. It was 1880 and the phylloxera plague was rampant in France, especially in the Charante Region where Cognac is located.

Bob Mc said...

I'll drink to that!

HermitJim said...

Hey Ted...
Hadn't heard of this before! Guess I'll have to look it up and study some.

Thanks for coming by today!


Hey Bob...
I used to say "I'll even drink to a flat tire", but that was in my younger days!

I appreciate the visit today!

Anonymous said...

Hermit,


My name is Barbara O’Brien and I am a political blogger. Just had a question about your blog and couldn’t find an email—please get back to me as soon as you can (barbaraobrien(at)maacenter.org)

Thanks,
Barbara

Ted said...

HJ The history of Cognac is interesting while reserching reserch (The Real McCoy)

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Regardless of the spelling, the real question is "Is the glass half full, or half empy?" Who cares, there's obviously room for more whisky...

AV