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

Tasting Report: Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2010

By Christopher Null | March 29, 2010 |

Was it the crowds (insane), the heat (manageable), or the rumor that some lady had thrown up near the buffet an hour into the event (just gross, yet credible)? Whatever the case this year I found myself not in the whiskey groove at the ordinarily smashing Whiskies of the World San Francisco event. It was…

Read More

Drinking Scotch with The Dalmore’s Richard Paterson

By Christopher Null | March 27, 2010 |

After spending some time with Tom Bulleit yesterday, I moved on to lunch with another whiskey world celebrity, Richard Paterson of Whyte & Mackay, which produces The Dalmore line of single malt Scotch whiskys, among other spirits. Paterson is serious about his passion and is renowned for his olfactory skills: At one point, the author…

Read More

Review: Highland Park 1968 Limited Edition

By Christopher Null | February 18, 2010 |

It’s not every day I get to sample a four-figures-a-bottle whiskey. This week I got to try two side by side. Highland Park brought out its newest bottling — the vintage-dated 1968 Limited Edition (bottled in 2008, it’s a 40-year-old whisky) — which is on the cusp of being released into the wilds. At $4,000…

Read More

Review: Gordon & MacPhail Benromach 10, Caol Ila Madeira 10, and Caol Ila Port 10

By Christopher Null | January 16, 2010 |

Our good friends at Gordon & MacPhail sent along these three new independently-bottled single malt whiskys for our consideration. Naturally we oblige them with our fair-minded coverage. Gordon & MacPhail Benromach 10 Years Old is a privately bottled whisky from a relatively quiet Speyside distillery. It’s clearly young, with a bit of bite on the…

Read More

Review: The Balvenie Madeira Cask 17 Years Old

By Christopher Null | January 14, 2010 |

A few months ago I had the opportunity to try The Balvenie’s newest expression — a 17 year old single malt finished in Madeira casks — before its formal release. But that was a mere taste in the grand scheme of things. Lately I’ve been sampling it again to form a more fully fleshed-out opinion…

Read More

Review: Laphroaig 18 Years Old

By Christopher Null | January 13, 2010 |

This year, Laphroaig bids farewell to its 15 year old Scotch and replaces it with one of slightly higher maturity (and perhaps a bit more coin): Laphroaig 18 Years Old. It’s quite an interesting malt from the Islay-based distiller, more mature and refined than the younger Laphroaig, which is invariably so heavy on the peat…

Read More

Review: Master of Malt Whiskies, 2009 Releases

By Christopher Null | December 1, 2009 |

Master of Malt is a whisky and spirits merchant, and it’s also making its own line of spirits from privately bottled single malt scotches from all over Scotland — including at least one I’d never even heard of before. We sampled a solid five of these offerings, with results all over the proverbial map. Master…

Read More

Review: Black Bull Blended Scotch 12 Years Old

By Christopher Null | November 29, 2009 |

Slogan: 50% malt, 50% grain, 50% abv. This whisky from the independent bottlers at Duncan Taylor and Co. is half malt whisky and half grain, and far better than that pedigree might imply. Normally blended Scotch is relegated to the second tier of the whisky world, but this is a real knockout of a whisky.…

Read More

Drinkhacker’s 2009 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 27, 2009 |

Booze: The gift that keeps on giving, whether you like it or not. It’s now tradition at Drinkhacker to look back at the best new spirits of the year, offering our suggestions on our favorite tipples — and the stuff that’s most likely to impress your holiday giftee should he find a neatly wrapped bottle…

Read More

Review: Lagavulin Distillers Edition 2009 – Distilled 1993

By Christopher Null | November 20, 2009 |

Last year Lagavulin released a 16-year-old special edition whisky and this year (2009) it’s continuing the cycle, offering a single malt double-matured in Pedro Ximinez sherry wood casks. This is a smoother whisky than last year’s phenolic monster, more delicate while still carrying plenty of briny, peaty notes that Lagavulin is so well-known for. The…

Read More