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: The Balvenie DoubleWood 12, PortWood 21, Single Barrel 15, and Madeira Cask 17 (2009)

By Christopher Null | November 11, 2009 |

Last night, The Balvenie was kind enough to host a few media types for a dinner and tasting of its four current release Scotch bottlings, including its Madeira Cask 17 Years Old, which just arrived in the U.S. a week ago. Some of these are classic bottlings that have been around for years (seriously —…

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Review: Gordon & MacPhail MacPhail’s Collection 8 Years Old – Glenrothes, Highland Park, and Tamdhu

By Christopher Null | October 27, 2009 |

Gordon & MacPhail is one of the most — if not the most — well-respected independent bottlers of Scotch whiskys in the world. Recently the company put out three young and inexpensive renditions of whiskys drawn from the casks of some major-name distilleries. Here’s how they stack up. All are 86 proof and, oddly, eight…

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Recipe: Scotch Mist

By Christopher Null | October 27, 2009 |

I’ve had this recipe, ripped from Imbibe Magazine, on my fridge for the better part of the year. Finally whipped a few up in recent days — and they’re quite tasty. The original recipe is noted here, but I recommend easing up on the St. Germain, maraschino, and honey syrup by at least 25 percent…

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Review: Compass Box Orangerie

By Christopher Null | October 25, 2009 |

The folks at Compass Box make some unusual whiskys to begin with, but Orangerie is something unlike any other Scotch you’re likely to have tried: Take a Highland single malt whisky (from Fife) and add hand-zested Navalino orange peel, Indonesian cassia (cinnamon), and Sri Lankan cloves to it. Bottle the infusion and you have Orangerie,…

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Review: The Glenlivet Nadurra Triumph 1991

By Christopher Null | October 14, 2009 |

With WhiskyFest a mere 48 hours away from its triumphant beginning, we turn to another triumph — Glenlivet’s limited release Nadurra Triumph 1991. This 18-year-old spin on the distillery’s standard Nadurra 16 Year, Triumph 1991 is similar in color but richer in flavor, offering more depth than its more readily available brother. Here the wood…

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Review: Dewar’s Founders Reserve 18 Years Old and Signature

By Christopher Null | October 7, 2009 |

Here’s a look at two new releases from one of the Scotch world’s biggest blenders. Dewar’s Founders Reserve 18 Years Old – Just about the top of the line of the Dewar’s blended whisky stable, the brand new Dewar’s Founders Reserve 18 Years Old is a blend of some refinement. Gentle and easygoing, this medium…

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How It’s Made: Johnnie Walker Black Label

By Christopher Null | September 28, 2009 |

Ever wonder how blended Scotch whisky is made? Well tomorrow I get the opportunity to find out firsthand by blending my own. Johnnie Walker sent this awesome kit (see right, click for large version) full of single malt and grain whiskeys, and during an hour-long session we’ll be blending our own Black Label under the…

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Review: Deanston 12 Years Old

By Christopher Null | September 26, 2009 |

This Highland Scotch whisky is hardly a major name in the spirits world, and production has stopped and started several times in the last few decades. Now Deanston is back and going strong, and its 12-year expression is likely the most common one you’ll find. Deanston 12 is a very light whisky, somewhat oily in…

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Review: Auchentoshan Classic, 12 Years Old, and Three Wood

By Christopher Null | September 3, 2009 |

Next to Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain, Auchentoshan is one of my favorite names in the Scotch whisky business. The company (a lowland distillery) also makes some fine whisky to match its name. We recently got a hand on three of its more widely available expressions. Comments on each follow. Auchentoshan Classic is the company’s entry-level whisky,…

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Review: Bowmore 12 Years Old

By Christopher Null | August 28, 2009 |

One of the big names of Islay, Bowmore is a staple of bars around the world. Bowmore’s 12 year old bottling is its youngest single malt with an age statement, and it’s a solid entry point to Bowmore’s typical structure. Moderately gold/amber in color, Bowmore 12 offers a mild nose with a somewhat hot character.…

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