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: 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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Review: Glen Moray 16 Years Old

By Christopher Null | January 1, 2009 |

A Speyside Scotch, aged 16 years and matured in old Chenin Blanc white wine barrels. This amber/copper Scotch is rich with flavor, a solid malt core backed up with lots of fruit. A big fruit salad in this one, with apples, bananas, and some cinnamon/clove spices to top it all off. Though just 80 proof,…

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Review: The Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Years Old (2009)

By Christopher Null | January 1, 2009 |

What a treat to try the distillery-bottled Macallan 18 Years Old after spending weeks with the Kirkland indie version. Here we see what Macallan had in mind — a honey and caramel-infused spirit with the lightest touch of smoke, layered with light fruit notes — apple and pear and a little citrus. The sherry wood…

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Review: Glenfiddich Solera Reserve 15 Years Old

By Christopher Null | January 1, 2009 |

This 15-year single malt is matured in the solera style in three different types of wood casks — sherry, bourbon, and new oak. Despite being bottled at 80 proof, it strangely comes off as hot. Even after adding a moderate amount of water, it’s still got some burn to it. There is sherry here and…

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Review: Johnnie Walker Green Label

By Christopher Null | December 31, 2008 |

For a long time Johnnie Walker Green Label was really hard to find — I ended up buying my bottle via mail order, then drinking very little of it. That all changed relatively recently: Now you can buy Green Label at Safeway. I set out to see what’s up with a good old-fashioned Green Label…

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Review: Sheep Dip and Pig’s Nose

By Christopher Null | December 27, 2008 |

Got samples of my two favorite-named Scotch whiskys, which are now becoming quite widely available in the U.S. market. How do they fare in tastings? Sheep Dip Malt Whiskey – This golden-colored, vatted malt is a blend of 16 single malt whiskys aged between 8 and 21 years, its name arising from British farmers’ slang for…

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Review: Kirkland Macallan Sherry Cask Finish 18 Years Old

By Christopher Null | December 18, 2008 |

Kirkland? If that name sounds familiar it’s because it’s the house brand of big box megastore Costco. And yes, they bottle their own brand of Macallan Scotch whisky. For newbie whisky drinkers, allow me to explain in brief. In a nutshell, this is how it works: In Scotland they make a lot of whisky. Sometimes…

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Review: Four Compass Box Whiskies – Peat Monster, Peat Monster Reserve, Oak Cross, and Hedonism Maximus

By Christopher Null | November 30, 2008 |

Happy St. Andrew’s Day! Here’s a little Scotch coverage to honor the occasion. Many critics and distilleries use the phrase “peat monster” to describe their heavily-peated malts. Compass Box, which hails from the Islay area, actually gave the term to a couple of its products. Here’s how the two real Peat Monsters, plus two more…

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Happy St. Andrew’s Day

By Christopher Null | November 30, 2008 |

St. Patrick gets all the press, but Scotland has its own patron saint: Saint Andrew (who else?), and he has his own day of celebration, too: November 30. Pick up a glass of your finest single malt and raise it toward our neighbors across the pond. Even if you aren’t Scottish, good old Andrew is…

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Drinkhacker’s 2008 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 28, 2008 |

What better gift is there than a bottle of booze? Not only will your giftee think you’re incredibly sophisticated, chances are he’ll let you drink a good amount of it before he realizes his terrible mistake. What’s the best booze to put under the tree this Christmas season? Of course you want to offer something…

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