Know your whiskies
What is the difference between whiskey and whisky? Are all single malts Scotch? What’s Bourbon and what’s Tennessee whisky? What’s Rye whisky? And what’s new world whisky? If you’ve just started your journey into the world of whiskies these questions can be quite baffling. But the difference is quite simple. It all depends on the grain used, the production process and where it is made.
Whiskey and whisky
Whisky is spelled without the ‘e’ in Scotland, Canada, Japan and other parts of the world, while the Irish and American spell it with an ‘e’.
Simply put, whisky is a drink distilled from fermented malt. Grains like barley, rye, etc., are germinated and dried, and then malted for this purpose. One of the key differences between whiskies is the grain used for malting. The drink is usually distilled between 40 to 94.8% ABV.
Single Malt whisky
Single malt whiskies are made at one distillery using only one malted grain (usually barley), water and yeast. There are strict rules and regulations about what construes single malts. And the Scots require it to age for a minimum of three years to qualify.
When the main ingredient isn’t barley, but wheat or maize or both, it is called a grain whisky.
As the name suggests, this is a blend of different whiskies.
Single cask whisky
These are often highly coveted whiskies. They are single malts that come from a single barrel of a single distillery. The quantity is limited, and hence, that much more precious.
There are stringent laws defining what Scotch whisky is. Scotch must be made out of malted barley or grain. Originally though, only malted barley could be used to make Scotch. It must be aged in oak barrels for at least 3 years. And can be called Scotch only if it is made entirely in Scotland.
As the name suggests, this is whisky made in the Republic of Ireland. Any malted cereal grain can be used to make it, but it must be aged for a minimum of three years in wooden casks.
This is an American whisky where the grain mash must contain at least 51% corn. Like Scotch, this drink must be made entirely in the USA to qualify.
This is Bourbon made in the state of Tennessee. What distinguishes it from ordinary Bourbon is the charcoal filtering.
In America, for whisky to qualify as rye whisky the mixture of malted grains should contain no less than 51% rye. In Canada, the rules are more relaxed about the quantity of rye.
It is no secret that India is one of the largest consumers of whisky in the world. But the quality of whisky produced here has always been suspect. The drink is made from fermented molasses, and is often considered ‘rum’ in other parts of the world.
However, the tide has turned, and few sticklers have ventured into the revered Single Malt territory. The result is whiskies like Paul John, which have gone on to win many an international award. They have even been rated higher than traditional Scotch whiskies in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. A range of peated (Edited, Bold, Peated Select Cask) and unpeated whiskies (Brilliance, Classic Select Cask) are available to choose from.