Today is a day to celebrate what is known as the “water of life” in the beverage industry. World Whiskey Day is a holiday dedicated to the age old spirit and great source of revenue. Therefore, today should be a day to push the whiskey from behind your bar into your customer’s hand.
With the rapidly growing whiskey trend and the increasing knowledge of patrons, your bartenders should at very least know the basics of the spirit. Here are some of the fundamental differences between the most common types of Whiskey.
This distilled spirit has a distinct smoky flavor due to the malt drying process. This is done over a fire which allows the smoke to come in contact with the malt. Each region of Scotland produces their own flavor of Scotch.
Single-Malt Scotch Whisky
There are about 100 distilleries in Scotland that produce single-malt whisky and each of them has their own specific flavor characteristics. Single-malt whisky is double distilled and 140 proof spirit called “plain British spirit” is put into the casks to be aged for at least three years. There is more flavor blended Scotch in single-malt whiskies.
In order for a bourbon to be a bourbon, it must be made form a mixture of grain that is at least 51% corn. Similar to how Scotch can only be made in Scotland, Bourbon can only be considered a Bourbon if it is made in America. The spirit also must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol.
The most common ingredients used to make Rye are wheat and barley; however US law required that at least 51% of grain used is rye. Yet, when the spirit is produced in other countries it can sport a mash corn to rye ratio as high as 9:1. As long as there is some rye in the whiskey, it can be considered a Rye.
Irish Whisky, considered to be the father of all whiskey, is a blend of pot-stilled malted and unmalted whiskey aged in Ireland. Very much like Scotch it must be distilled to less than 94.8% ABV. However, the complex blend is dried in a closed kiln, away from smoke and fire distinguishing it from its close relative Scotch. Finally, the whisky must be aged for at least three years.
Very similar to Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey applies the same traditional rules. The distinct difference is in the filtration process where the Whiskey slowly drips through sugar-maple charcoal, a process that can take up to two weeks.
With its light body and versatility, Canadian Whisky, is very mixable. Comprised of primarily corn or wheat, distillers supplement the spirit with rye, barley or barley malt. The whisky is then aged in used oak barrels for a minimum of three years.