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: Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila 8 Years Old

By Christopher Null | March 9, 2009 |

Mega-independent bottlers-slash-retailers Gordon & MacPhail are releasing a few new private bottlings this season, notably featuring this new 8-year expression of Caol Ila, served up for your approval. The initial nose is a hefty dose of peat and smoke, and though the color is just the palest gold, it hints at a mightily big, smoky,…

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Review: Bruichladdich Bourbon Cask 16, 2001 Resurrection Dram, 21 Years Old, and 1984 Golder Still

By Christopher Null | March 1, 2009 |

Bruichladdich — a perennial favorite at Drinkhacker HQ from Islay — recently released a number of new expressions of its classic whisky, some with surprising compositions. We got our mitts (and tongues) on four of them: Bruichladdich Bourbon Cask Aged 16 Years Old – No big surprise here. 97 percent of Scotch whisky is matured…

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Review: Springbank 21 Years Old

By Christopher Null | February 25, 2009 |

Dug up this old bottle at a friend’s house last night… one whiff and I knew I’d found something special. Springbank isn’t a big name in Scotch whisky in America, but if its younger (and less expensive) bottlings are anything like this one, it really deserves to be. Located in Campbeltown (on the little peninsula…

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Review: Lagavulin Distillers Edition 2008 – Distilled 1992

By Christopher Null | February 20, 2009 |

Check out the Malts.com “Flavour Map” and look in the top right corner. Yep, that’s Lagavulin Distillers Edition, the whisky we’re drinking here, pegged to the limits of “smoky” and “rich.” There’s nothing subtle in Lagavulin’s 16-year-old special bottling (released in 2008), which is finished in Pedro Ximenez casks to finish off the whisky. This…

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Review: Talisker Distillers Edition 2008 – Distilled 1995

By Christopher Null | February 9, 2009 |

More special edition malts from the Classic Malt Collection, this one Talisker’s Distillers Edition rarity. Talisker — known as the only single malt distiller on the Isle of Skye — ages this whisky in oak then finishes it in Amoroso Sherry casks. It’s unspecified how long the whisky spent in each cask — but the…

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Review: Brora 25 Years Old Limited Edition 2008

By Christopher Null | February 8, 2009 |

A coastal Highlands single malt, part of Diageo’s limited release series (with about 3,000 bottles produced) whisky is initially a little off-putting, but some time with it opens things up and reveals more of its charms. Cutting through a cloud of smoke is your first challenge, and you’ll find a honey and lemon-orange body underneath.…

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Review: Port Ellen 29 Years Old Limited Edition 2008

By Christopher Null | February 7, 2009 |

Look at the humble label on this bottle of Port Ellen Scotch whisky and you’ll probably see the big “8,” immediately assuming this is a simple, eight-year-old spirit. The pale yellow color certainly wouldn’t indicate otherwise… but check the fine print. Distilled in 1979 (some bottles may say 1978), this whisky’s been aging for 29…

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Review: Oban 18 Years Old Limited Edition 2008 and 1993 Distiller’s Edition

By Christopher Null | February 6, 2009 |

The Classic Malts Collection, which comprises a wide range of Scotch whiskys, recently announced a number of special edition, limited release Scotches. We got our hands on a few of them. Reviews will be posted over the next few days, but we’ll start with two from Oban. Oban Limited Edition 18 Years Old 2009 – It’s been…

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Review: Glenmorangie “The Original” 10 Years Old

By Christopher Null | January 10, 2009 |

Easy to find and almost as easy to drink, Glenmorangie’s entry-level whisky is a solid and affordable entree into the world of Scotch. Glenmorangie is often noted for its floral character, but here you’ll find a surprising saltiness that interplays in an intriguing way with the caramel and honey notes of from the wood in…

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Review: Scapa 16 Years Old

By Christopher Null | January 6, 2009 |

Scapa is a relatively small outfit on Orkney Island, which is why Scapa gets to put the awesome word “Orcadian” on its label. Inside the bottle is a 16-year-old Scotch, which replaces the distillery’s 14-year single malt (which, in turn, replaced the distillery’s 12-year-old). Scapa’s just a one-whisky outfit, it seems. This is a racy…

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