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: Glenfarclas 40 Years Old

By Christopher Null | October 15, 2010 |

One does not often get the chance to use “40 years old” and “value whisky” in the same review, but Glenfarclas 40 is exactly that: The most reasonably-priced 40 year old single malt that you may ever encounter. The quality here is exceptional: Glenfarclas 40 is intensely sherried, with big orange peel character at play…

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Review: The Glenrothes 1994, 1998, and John Ramsay Legacy Edition

By Christopher Null | October 8, 2010 |

In the Scotch whisky world, The Glenrothes (correct pronunciation: glen-ROTH-ess) is unusual to the point of being unique. It doesn’t offer age statements on its products, but rather vintage dates them from the point of distillation. You can figure out the age by reading the fine print — the typical Glenrothes vintage-dated whisky is 10…

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Review: Ardbeg Supernova SN2010

By Christopher Null | October 6, 2010 |

There are peaty Scotches, and there is Ardbeg Supernova. Ardbeg’s standard malt is, to this writer’s knowledge, the peatiest Scotch in regular production. Supernova takes that and ramps it up even further. Listen, they don’t exactly call it Supernova because it’s subtle. The original Supernova was released last year to massive acclaim, with a ridiculous…

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Review: The Arran Malt 15th Anniversary

By Christopher Null | October 3, 2010 |

In the world of Scotch whisky, Arran is a wee babe. The distillery has no ancient heritage to tout to the world. It started from scratch in 1995. To celebrate 15 years in business, Arran is releasing this special-edition whisky, distilled in 1999 (making it not 15 years old, as you might expect, but rather…

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Review: GlenDronach 12, 15, and 18 Years Old (2010)

By Christopher Null | October 1, 2010 |

The GlenDronach distillery in the Scottish Highlands had been dark for years, but the Scotch boom of the 1990s led to it being restarted in 2002 in order to take obvious advantage of the trend. Now part of the Chivas empire, the distillery’s first new-era products are now live, with 12, 15, and 18 Year…

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Review: The Black Grouse Blended Scotch

By Christopher Null | September 30, 2010 |

A move is afoot, and if you’ve been reading the whiskey pages here at Drinkhacker over the last few months, you’ve probably got a whiff of it: Wood. Wood is in in a major way. More wood. Stronger wood. Stranger wood. Every whiskeymaker from California to Kyoto seems to be experimenting with extra or unique…

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Review: Springbank CV

By Christopher Null | September 28, 2010 |

Springbank is one of those whisky gems that serious Scotch fans love — myself included — but which is sadly underrepresented in the U.S. at bars and liquor stores. Springbank appears to be on the rise, though, and the Campbeltown-located distillery has put out its first new spirit in years. Like standard Springbank expressions, CV…

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Review: The Balvenie PortWood 21 Years Old, Rum Cask 14 Years Old, and 40 Years Old (2010)

By Christopher Null | September 13, 2010 |

More new whiskies from Speyside’s The Balvenie are on the way in coming months, and we got a sneak preview of two of them (plus a taste of an old favorite). Thoughts (based on early bottlings) follow. The Balvenie PortWood 21 Years Old (2010) – One of the distillery’s finest expressions, finished with five months of…

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Review: Cardhu 12 Years Old (2010)

By Christopher Null | July 13, 2010 |

Cardhu Single Malt — a major component of Johnnie Walker blends — has been out of U.S. liquor stores for years — not since 2003 has a single malt version of Cardhu been for sale in the U.S. (A controversial “pure malt” expression of Cardhu — a blend of single malts from various distilleries —…

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Review: The Glenrothes Alba Reserve

By Christopher Null | July 3, 2010 |

This new whisky from The Glenrothes has the distinction of being the distillery’s first kosher whisky. Now in limited release in a half-dozen states in the U.S. (sorry, Tennessee!), this Speyside single malt carries no age statement but is named after the type of oak (scientific name: Quercus Alba — American oak, ex-bourbon barrels) in…

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