Scotland: Land of Whisky (Water of Life)

May 21 is World Whisky Day. Missed it? Never mind. The whole month of May is whisky month in Scotland. Missed that too? Then you must get your arse to Scotland and explore the greatest concentration of distilleries in the world.

Whisky (or whiskey) is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Various grains (which may be malted) are used for different varieties, including barley, corn (maize), rye, and wheat. Whisky is typically aged in wooden casks, generally made of charred white oak. - Wikipedia.

Visit Scotland.com has created an awesome guide (see below) to Scotland's five whisky regions...Islay, Speyside, Highland, Lowland and Campbeltown.

http://ebooks.visitscotland.com/496544

A Cocktail of Whisky Facts

First Aid

Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake. W. C. Fields

History Of Whisky

Read about the history of whisky at Hot Rum World.

How Whisky Is Made

Makers Of Whisky

Of course, Scotland isn't the only maker of whisky. There's also American, Australian, Canadian, English, Finnish, French, German, Indian, Irish, Japanese, New Zealand, South African, Spanish and Swedish varieties.

Personality Of Whisky Drinkers

Whisky drinkers don't half-arse things. Elite Daily offers up wisdom on men and women who drink whisky:

Spelling - With Or Without An 'E'

  • Whisky: used mostly in the UK.

  • Whiskey: used a lot in the US and other countries.

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Drinking Whisky

With Or Without Ice And Water?

With or without ice? With or without water? With or without a mixer? Which mixer? So many ways to enjoy or destroy our whisky experience. Of course our goal is to enjoy the flavour, taste and aroma for maximum pleasure...before, during and after sipping.

Whether you're drinking a 'quality' whisky or not, you can increase your chances of enjoying your drink by doing, or not doing, certain things.  You don't have to buy the most expensive whisky to enjoy the drink. And if you do spend big, don't wreck your experience by doing something 'silly' ... like add ice... or not add ice. What you do inside your glass tumbler is your business.

Neat (nothing added)

  • Drink it neat if you dare. Drinker beware. If you have a good quality spirit this is wonderful (my personal favourite).

On a magnet

  • I like to rest my bottle of whisky on a strong, flat magnet (450 gauss; injection moulded magnet) for at least an hour before drinking it. Basically, the bottle rests on a big magnetic drink coaster.

Magnetising the whisky can:

  • upgrade the taste to a top shelf spirit (great for cheaper spirits)

  • increase its 'bioavailability' (the ease my body absorbs the whisky)

  • raise the pH level so it's less acidic and more alkaline (so there's less conflict and damage going on inside our body when we add alcohol)

  • reduce the likelihood of a sore head the next day if you have more than a couple (in my experience at least - related to pH level impact).

How magnetic energy affects fluid:

  • When magnetic energy is applied to a fluid, large molecule clusters are forced apart, throwing off scales and smaller fluid molecules are created.

  • These smaller clusters can more easily penetrate a cell wall, allowing for easier absorption and hydration.

  • It makes your hard liquor a softer liquid and it tastes 'wetter'. 

On the rocks (with ice)

  • If you add ice you reduce the temperature and this may also reduce the flavour.

  • Cooling the whiskey can take the edge of its 'nasty but nice' taste.

  • Be aware that adding ice can affect both the temperature and the water content and this can impact taste.

  • You can add a single cube of ice, the bigger the better so it melts more slowly.

  • The taste of the whisky will depend on the quality of the water used to make the ice.

Alternatives to ice:

  • You can get whisky stones that you chill and add to your glass. I've never tried them because I’m scared I might forget they’re in the glass (especially after a few), throw them back and then promptly choke to death.

  • Drink outside in the cold and hope the fire keeps you warm :-)

Add water

  • Be careful not to dilute the flavour too much with too much water or ice.

  • If you add water you can enhance the aroma and flavour. But too much can dilute it just as much.

  • Water that is full of chlorine adds bad flavour and other things you can do without.

Add mixer

  • More palatable especially for a cheaper, nastier spirit.

  • If I add a mixer, my preference is ginger ale.

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Whisky Flavours

How do you like your whisky? Delicate and light or rich and smokey? Or somewhere in between? 

The Whisky Exchange places whisky into eight categories:

  1. elegant and floral - like Ballantine’s, Glen Moray Classic, J & B Rare, Crown Royal Canadian Whisky, Miltonduff, Glencadam, Glenlivet, Glengoyne, Glen Spey, Dalwhinnie, Teaninich, Aultmore, Mannochmore, Linkwood, Glenkinchie, Benriach, LIttlemill.

  2. fresh fruit and vanilla - like Johnnie Walker Red Label, Tullamore Dew, Monkey Shoulder, Buchmills, Glenfiddich, Black Velvet Reserve, Glenmorangie, Kilbeggan, Edradour, Glenkinchie, Auchentoshan, Scapa Skiren, Haig Club, Inchmurrin, Clynelish, Chivas Regal.

  3. malt and honey - like Jameson, Kilbeggan, Hankey Bannister, Whyte and Mackay, Glenfarclas, Glengoyne, Stronachie, Dewars, Ancnoc, Aberfeldy, Benromach, Whippersnapper, Royal Lochnagar, Wemyss the Hive, Cardhu, Elijah Craig, Glenfiddich, Old Pulteney Navigator, Glenmorangie 18 year old, Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

  4. rich fruit and spice - like Aberlour, Highland Park, Rebel Yell Straight Rye Whisky, The Feathery, Teeling Single Malt, Ballantine’s, Aberfeldy, Tamdhu, Glenlivet, Arran, Glenfiddich, Glenfarclas, Glengoyne, Tullibardine, Chivas Regal

  5. dried fruit and nut - like Highland Journey, Balvenie, Dalmore, Tullibardine, Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, Glendalough, Daiiluaine, Auchentoshan, Edroadour, Cardhu.

  6. peat and fruit - like Famous Grouse Smoky Black, Johnnie Walker Black, Ardmore Legacy, Loch Lomond Green Label, Big Peat, Ardberg, Glenturret Peated Edition, Wolfburn.

  7. maritime and smoky - like Islay Mist, Glen Moray Peated, Bowmore, Talisker, Laphroaig, Rock Oyster Cask Strength, Caol Ila Moch.

  8. rich and peaty - like Laphroaig, Johnnie Walker Double Black, Isle of Jura, Talisker, Highland Park.

We tend to favour the first four categories that are more delicate, light, fruity, honey and spice flavoured.

There's also regional flavours. We tend to prefer single malts from the LowlandsHighland and Speyside. As non-smokers, we steer away from the more smoky and peaty Islay whiskies.

Read about how whisky is made, how to drink it and lots more.

What Are Your Whisky Drinking Preferences?

Don't keep them to yourself. Let's take this down in the comments - human to human!

Have you visited a distillery in Scotland? Or on a whisky distillery tour anywhere? How was it? Do you recommend it? Any tips?