What Is Scotch Whisky? The Best Whisky?

What is Scotch whisky? Did you know that the first reference to Scotch whisky was made in 1494? Back then, alcoholic spirits were known as aqua vitae (Latin for “water of life”). People of the time also didn’t spend their time sipping on this beverage since it was extremely strong and mainly used for preserving produce.

Whisky originally made its way to Scotland from Ireland, but Scotch whisky as we know it today didn’t come about until the 18th and 19th centuries. Before then, people used the liquid in medicines and to preserve grain. But what is Scotch whisky and what makes it different from ordinary whisky? Keep reading more to find out.

What Is Scotch Whisky?

The main difference that separates Scotch from any other kind of whisky is that Scotch whisky only comes from Scotland. It is much in the same fashion as how rioja wine only comes from the Rioja region of Spain. This whisky also needs to be aged for a minimum of 3 years in an oak barrel, otherwise, it won’t be real Scotch whisky.

what is scotch whisky

Scotch is usually made from malted barley, but it can sometimes be made from other types of grains such as rye. However, barley is in all the original Scotch recipes. So, if you want to try an authentic and old-fashioned Scotch, make sure it’s made from barley.

As of today, there are more than 130 Scotch distilleries. Each of these distilleries has a unique approach to crafting Scotch. Distilleries in different regions are able to impart different flavors to their Scotch so that no bottle of Scotch is exactly the same. For example, Scotch whiskies from the Lowlands tend to be light and gentle with notes of cream and grass.

On the other hand, regions near the coast such as the island of Islay tend to produce Scotch varieties that are heavy and smoky.

How Is Scotch Made?

As mentioned before, Scotch comes from malted barley. To malt the barley, the distillery will need to soak the barley in water for a certain period of time. This is essential to the creation of Scotch because this process allows the barley to germinate. When this happens, the starch within the barley starts to turn into sugar. The sugar then interacts with yeast which begins the fermentation process and the creation of alcohol.

Single malt Scotch is Scotch that is made in a single distillery. Double malt Scotch is Scotch that is made in two different distilleries that are then mixed together. As for the Scotch vs whisky debate, it is actually a trick question because Scotch is a type of whisky but not all whisky is Scotch.

Once the barley starts to sprout, it needs to be removed and immediately dried. The way the barley dries can determine what kind of flavor the Scotch has. You will find that many types of Scotch have a unique smoky flavor. But where does this smoky flavor come from if not from being aged in a charred barrel?

Instead, this flavor comes from how the barley is dried over a peat fire. The peat in Scotland has an earthy aroma and flavor that charred wood can’t compete with. Once the barley is dry, it needs to be ground up and soaked in a vessel full of hot water. The water turns into wort once the sugar in the barley seeps into it.

The wort is then filtered and goes through a fermentation process with yeast. Then, finally, the distillation process begins, followed by the maturation and release processes. After all that is done, the Scotch will finally be ready to drink. As mentioned before, Scotch needs to be aged for 3 years, but it can be aged for a longer period. The more it ages, the deeper its flavor will become.

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