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!