This is an introduction of the basic concepts of whisky.

Whisky is getting increasingly popular these days but how much do you know about it?

Scotland is for sure the most famous whisky producer of all, while other mainstream whisky producers include the upcoming Japan, and United States, Ireland and India, which haven’t received as much attention from Hong Kongers. Whisky from each country has its own characteristics and is worth a try.

And what is the difference between whisky and whiskey? Whisky is only used when reffering to Scotch style whisky and  the spelling ‘whiskey’ is used by other countries.

Do you know the differences between single malt and blended whisky?

Though both are well-known 12-year Scotch whiskey, why is a bottle of 12-year Macallan double the price of a bottle of 12-year Johnny Walker?

The main difference is the ingredients used for production. Johnny Walker is a blended whisky, while Macallan is a single malt whisky.

Blended whiskies use a variety of different grains that are mixed together and distilled, which have a higher yield and are relatively more commercialized. The standards of single malt whiskies are far stricter. First of all, the ingredient must be the be barley malt from the same distillery, and the whiskies must be aged for more than 3 years in an oak barrel, therefore, single malt whiskies have a lower yield and fetch a higher price.

Is barley the only whiskey ingredient?

In fact, only well-known single malt whiskies are made of barley malt, while the majority use a blend of different grains, such as wheat, rye, or even maize, especially American and Canadian bourbon whisky, but this does not mean that they are inferior. Whiskies that are made of maize have a thicker body and a uniquely sweet flavour.

Should ice be added when drinking whisky?

In fact, drinking whisky on the rocks is just a habit. As whisky has a high concentration of alcohol, the ice can serve as a diluent, so that the whisky is easier on the tongue. Ice can also numb the taste buds, reducing the stinging of alcohol, but also its aroma due to the low temperature.

Aside from ice, you can choose to add a small amount of room temperature water or drink it straight up, so that the aroma becomes more evident.

So, these are the basics of whisky. Next time, I will talk about cask strength, single cask and Angel’s share, plus the increasingly popular IB.

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