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Scotch 101

Scotch is a spirit that embodies elegance & sophistication. To new comers it may appear to be a symbol of the past, but it’s got a bright future. This is due to the fact that in our fast paced society, it’s easy to miss a refined classic. Even though scotch may seem like it’s for people over 30, it has the potential to captivate the wild spirit of any generation.

Once you dive into Scotch, it’s easy to get seduced. The flavor is mind blowing, especially if you pick the right blend. After trying a few brands, you will quickly realize that you have opened Pandora’s box. The sheer amount of different styles of Scotch is staggering, & they are getting more diverse. While this may seem like an old hobby, people’s interest in Scotch is being reborn. Ever since 2002, sales of single-malt Scotch have risen 134% in the US alone.

This new wave of aficionados is a testament to the powerful allure of Scotch. While it may have seemed outdated 15 years ago, this spirit is back with a vengeance. Surprisingly, you don’t have to be part of the elite to discover the beauty of this spirit. Now’s the prime time to get in on the action. All that’s needed is a little education to open up the doors to a whole new level of elegance. We compiled a list of must know Scotch facts to set you off on the right path. With this base of knowledge, you will be well on your way to discovering your next favorite drink. Enjoy the journey & prepare to be blown away by this illustrious tradition!

 The Best Scotches

Must know facts about the top scotches

Fact #1: Single Malt Whisky are produced in a single distillery – Even though there are two types of Scotch, one steals the show. Single malts have exploded in popularity because they are superior in quality to blends. This glorious spirit is produced by aging 100% malted barley in oak barrels for at least 3 years. Many different juices can be mixed in one barrel, but the age on the bottle always refers to the youngest whisky in the mix. In this process, all the ingredients are produced in the same distillery. Macallan 12, Glenmorangie 10 & Glenfiddich 15 are great single malts to try when you are first starting. They sport smooth, fruity tastes that allow you to work your way up to more hardcore labels.

Fact #2: Whisky blends are a mix of multiple distilleries Even though single malts are currently dominating the market, that wasn’t the case 40 years ago. Up until 1970 blends were the only kind of Scotch available in the US. Blends are easier on your budget because they are made with a different process. They are created by blending various single malts with a bit of grain whisky. Grain whisky isn’t 100% malted barley, so it’s a cheap alternative to mix with the other single malts. Each ingredient comes from a different distillery, so the quality of the mix depends entirely on the blend. Chivas Regal 18, Dewar’s 18 & Johnnie Walker Platinum Label are all great examples of quality blends.

Fact #3: Regions have a huge impact on the best scotchesIn Scotland there are 5 regions where Scottish Whiskey is produced. Each region produces completely unique blends that are attributed to the distinct environments where they are produced.

The Speyside region is home to over 50% of Scotland’s distilleries. Macallan, Glenfiddich & Glenlivet are premium single malts that all hail from this region. They boast sweet caramel tastes with crisp nutty notes. As far as blends go, Johnnie Walker & Chivas Regal are representing this region.

Speyside is also part of a much larger region, the Highlands. This is the biggest whisky producing area of Scotland. It’s home to some spicy whiskies such as Glenmorangie & Oban. Fruitier versions such as Edradour & Highland Park all originate from this epic region.

Just a century ago Campbeltown was a booming region for Scotch production. Their pungent, peaty whiskies made the region famous. Unfortunately, today only 3 distilleries are still operating. Springbank, Glengyle & Glen Scotia are heroically representing this region.

The Isle of Islay may be the smallest region, but its products pack a punch. Their spirits are infamous for super smoky, intense flavors. Bowmore, Laphroaig & Ardbeg are brilliant Scotch’s that are so potent they deserve to be respected.

The Lowlands region is located right in the heart of Scotland. Their whiskies are triple distilled, so they feature softer flavors. Currently only 3 distilleries still operate here. Bladnoch, Auchentoshan & Glenkinchie are carrying the torch for this key region.

Fact #4: Few countries spell “Whiskey” While we may think that “whiskey” is the norm, it’s known as “whisky” in most of the world. Only Americans & the Irish add the extra “e”. This spelling difference stems from the 15th century. Back then the Scots & the Irish Gaelic came up with different names for this intoxicating spirit. The Irish version had the extra “e”, & this slang was brought to America with the Irish immigrants.

Fact #5: Peaty Means Smoky Peat is an essential ingredient for producing Scotch. Most of Scotland is covered in peat bogs, which provide distillers with the perfect fuel. The peat is dried & lit on fire to dry out the malted barley. This process infuses the malt with a distinct smoky flavor. Once the malt is distilled, this flavor is still preserved. Every blend is different, so the amount of peaty/smoky flavor will vary.

Fact #6: When to Chill Your Scotch There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy Scotch. In the end this depends entirely on your preferences. There are many conflicting opinions, but here are the main arguments. Allegedly if you want to enjoy the symphony of flavors, don’t drink on the rocks. Ice is notorious for muting the flavors, & it can also water down the alcohol. Depending on where you are drinking, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Drinking it chilled is best when you want to nurse a drink for a long time. Both methods are tried & true for Scotch enthusiasts. So feel free to pick the way that suits and don't forget your cigar clip to hold your cigar!

Please drink responsibly. 

November 06, 2016 by Charles Graff
Tags: scotch whiskey

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