Scotch Whisky

Whisky made in Scotland, referred to as Scotch, is one of the most popular types of whisky in the world. By law, it must be distilled to no more than 189.6 proof and produced from a mixture of water, cereal grains, and malt, with the only allowed additives being water and caramel coloring. Scotch must be aged in oak casks in Scotland at a licensed warehouse for a minimum of three years, but, unlike bourbon or rye, those casks can, and almost always are, used barrels instead of new ones. Scotch is separated into five categories, one of which is required to be displayed on the label: Single Malt (100% malt barley from a single distillery), Single Grain (all grain spirit from a single distillery), Blended Grain (grain whiskies from multiple distilleries), Blended Malt (a blend of single malts), and Blended Scotch (a blend of malt and grain whiskies). The malt used to make Scotch can be dried by fire from with compacted vegetation called peat, which imparts a unique flavor on the final product. (This type of Scotch is most common on island regions, particularly Islay.) There are five whisky-producing regions in Scotland, each with its own style and character: Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, Islay, and Campbeltown.

Top Scotch Whisky Posts:

A Tour of Scotland: Understanding Scotch Whiskies
Touring Scotch Whisky Distilleries in Speyside, Scotland
Drinking Scotch with The Dalmore’s Richard Paterson
Whiskies of Glen Grant with Master Distiller Dennis Malcolm

Review: Drambuie 15 Liqueur

By Christopher Null | August 18, 2011 |

The original whiskey liqueur is as unmistakable as it is classic: Drambuie may not be a spirit for all tastes, but, like Galliano or Campari, it’s a staple you can’t help but admire, if for no other reason than sheer longevity. Now Drambuie is launching a line extension — not its first, but the first…

Read More

Review: Benromach Hermitage Finish

By Christopher Null | August 7, 2011 |

Wine barrel finishes are hardly unique, but Benromach’s latest, very limited release is the first time I’ve seen barrels used in the Hermitage region of France (via Rhone Valley regulars Guigal) used as a finishing wood. This whisky spends an undisclosed amount of time in ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry oak before being transferred into Hermitage casks,…

Read More

Dispatches from Aspen Food & Wine Classic 2011

By Christopher Null | July 21, 2011 |

“Is this your first Classic?” It was a question I’d hear more than once over the three days I spent in Aspen last month at what has become the pre-eminent annual food and wine event in America. Emphasis on food. In a single evening I encountered Mario Batali, Jacques Pepin, Jose Andres (who personally prepared…

Read More

Review: Laphroaig Cairdeas Ileach Edition 2011 with Master Distiller John Campbell

By Christopher Null | July 15, 2011 |

Laphroaig, the king of peated Scotch, is not a company that likes to rock the boat. Today, it has just five real bottlings on the market — 10, 18, and 25 year olds, Quarter Cask, and a cask strength version of the 10. That’s it. No fancy finishes. No extra-woody (or, more likely in Laphroaig’s…

Read More

Review: The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve (2011)

By Christopher Null | July 14, 2011 |

Most Scotch whiskies are aged in ex-Bourbon barrels for the majority of their lives. Only at the end are they occasionally finished in oddball barrels, like former sherry or Port casks. Dalmore’s Cigar Malt — a brand which has been off the market for years now — is an exception to the rule. It spends…

Read More

Review: Kilchoman Spring 2011 Release

By Christopher Null | July 6, 2011 |

Kilchoman’s quarterly Scotch whiskey releases continue with this Spring 2011 release which is just now hitting our shores. It is a vatting of 70% three-year-old whisky from first-fill Bourbon barrels plus 30% four-year-old whiskey from first-fill Bourbon barrels that has been finished in Oloroso sherry barrels for five weeks. Bottling strength is 92 proof. The…

Read More

Review: Balblair Vintage 2000

By Christopher Null | June 28, 2011 |

Balblair is a Highland malt, and a relatively obscure one at that. The squat bottle and modern label design don’t even look like your typical Scotch — not even Glenrothes. You could be forgiven for presuming you were looking at an obscure herbal liqueur when you spy this across the room. But you’re not, and…

Read More

Review: Old Pulteney 12 Years Old (2011)

By Christopher Null | June 26, 2011 |

My favorite Old Pulteney has always been old Old Pulteney: At 30 years old, Pulteney takes on the essence of a longshoreman, but at a young 12 years old, as we have it here, it’s but an innocent seafaring lad of a whisky. Hailing from the Highlands, Old Pulteney is the northernmost distillery on the…

Read More

Review: Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix

By Christopher Null | May 6, 2011 |

It’s one of the most-requested products that I review here at Drinkhacker, and I was finally able to cajole Glenfiddich brand ambassador Mitch Bechard into bringing a bottle of Glenfiddich’s prized Snow Phoenix single malt over for sampling. The story behind Snow Phoenix could fill a book: In January 7, 2010, after a wild winter…

Read More

Review: Wemyss Malts Smooth Gentleman 8 Years Old and Peat Chimney 8 Years Old

By Christopher Null | April 23, 2011 |

Wemyss (pronounced “weems”) is well known for its blended (aka vatted) malts and its aggressive approach to picking a variety of single malt casks to reach various specified outcomes. Wemyss even names its malts — which are not blended Scotch, by the way, since they contain no grain spirit, just malted barley — to give…

Read More