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 Glenrothes Select Reserve

By Christopher Null | June 5, 2009 |

In its distinctive hand-grenade bottle (with cardboard shell), a bottle of Glenrothes comes across like a liquid hand grenade. The Glenrothes Select Reserve is the entry-level variation on this whisky, an 80-proof concoction from Speyside with no age statement, a single malt vatted from Glenrothes whiskys of a variety of ages. (Since it’s all malted…

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Review: Aberlour A’bunadh Highland Single Malt Batch 26

By Christopher Null | May 21, 2009 |

Amazing how impressions can differ over time and given a more leisurely tasting environment. I first encountered Aberlour’s A’bunadh at the Whiskies of the World event earlier this year and absolutely loved what I tasted. I finally bought a bottle this week and, while I still enjoy it, I find it’s not nearly the godsend…

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Review: Glenfarclas 10 Years Old and 12 Years Old (2009)

By Christopher Null | May 19, 2009 |

These two bottles make up the youngest and most commonly available whiskys in the Glenfarclas portfolio (which includes bottlings as old as a whopping 50 years). These Highland malts are quite pleasing, accessible to either the new whisky drinker or the veteran looking for a solid standby. Glenfarclas 10 Years Old is a classically structured…

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Review: The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Years Old

By Christopher Null | May 7, 2009 |

It is difficult to go wrong with a dram of Macallan in any of its forms, and the distillery’s 15-year-old Fine Oak expression is no exception to that rule. The Fine Oak line is aged in a combination of three casks — ex-sherry casks from European oak, ex-sherry casks from American oak, and ex-bourbon casks…

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Review: Aberlour 100

By Christopher Null | May 1, 2009 |

Available only in duty-free shops (if that any more), this, like the aforereviewed Glenfarclas 105 is “100” only in the old 175-proof-is-max scale: By modern standards it’s 114.2 proof, so take appropriate precautions should you find yourself face to face with a bottle. It’s certainly worth the hunt. This surprisingly dark whisky packs lots of…

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Review: Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength (2009)

By Christopher Null | April 29, 2009 |

I really enjoyed Glenfarclas’s 21- and 25-year Scotches at last year’s WhiskyFest, and had the opportunity to sample Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength — a somewhat more commonly found whisky — last night. First, understand that the 105 actually refers to the old British proof system: Glenfarclas 105 is actually 60 percent alcohol by volume, or…

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Review: Organic Spirits Lineup – Highland Harvest Scotch, Papagayo Rum, UK5 Vodka, and Juniper Green Gin

By Christopher Null | April 13, 2009 |

Organic everything — that’s the sell of Organic Spirits (aka Maison Jomere), which imports five different products, bottles them disconcertingly in the exact same cylindrical decanter, and puts on each a label emblazoned with the Royal Warrant of HRH Prince Charles. The Warrant is offered for placement on products which have been used for five…

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Review: Laphroaig 25 Years Old (2009)

By Christopher Null | April 9, 2009 |

As promised, we’re back with another ridiculously expensive, very rare Scotch whisky — Laphroaig’s 25-year-old limited edition, weighing in at $500 even. I have to say, I’ve always wondered what old Laphroaig would taste like, and my curiosity is now sated: It’s amazing. With this 25-year Islay whisky, all that harsh, oil-fire phenol that’s part…

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Review: Ardmore 30 Years Old

By Christopher Null | April 8, 2009 |

It’s not every day a $450 Scotch lands on the doorstep. Today we got two (though Laphroaig’s 25 Year Old, to be reviewed tomorrow, is actually $500). Ardmore’s 30-year Highland (Speyside) Scotch (I believe there’s only been one other 30-year-old Ardmore released to date) is an amazing treat. Here we have everything malt whisky should…

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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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