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: Kilchoman Winter 2010 Release

By Christopher Null | February 11, 2011 |

We last encountered Kilchoman only a few short months ago, when its Summer 2010 Release single malt whisky was still on the shelves. Now those days are gone, but Kilchoman is back with another semiannual release. Winter 2010 finds Kilchoman still at three years on the barrel, and as big and burly as that youth…

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Review: Benromach Origins, Batch #2 Port Pipes

By Christopher Null | January 11, 2011 |

Benromach isn’t a major name in Scotch whisky, but it’s doing some exciting things nonetheless. Its Origins series is designed to measure what happens to malt whisky not when you upend the entire production process but rather when you make relatively small changes. With its second experiment, Benromach has fully matured an 11 year old…

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Review: Diageo Classic Malts, 2010 Releases

By Christopher Null | December 27, 2010 |

Every year, Diageo, under its Classic Malts Selection endeavor, tracks down some rare whiskies from the distilleries it owns and presents them for sale, usually on very limited release (a few thousand bottles or less). This year, seven releases are being offered. We got the chance to review them all (plus a more commonly available…

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Review: Glenmorangie Finealta

By Christopher Null | December 19, 2010 |

Highland distillery Glenmorangie will release its latest expression in the U.S. in January 2011: Finealta. Finealta finds Glenmorangie, as many Scots distilleries are doing, experimenting with peat more and more, opening up new avenues for their malts beyond special wood finishes, which have dominated for a decade. Finealta is certainly a change of pace for…

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Review: The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve (2010)

By Christopher Null | December 17, 2010 |

Honoring its recent expansion, The Glenlivet has released this very special, limited edition malt called Founder’s Reserve. Just 1824 bottles (an homage to the year the distillery was opened) were produced, encased in nifty wooden boxes, held shut with magnetic clasps embedded in the planks. The whisky is 21 years old, a special bottling crafted…

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Tasting Report: Single Malt Scotch Whisky Extravanganza Fall 2010

By Christopher Null | November 28, 2010 |

As previously discussed, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society doesn’t just sell unique single-cask whiskys to its membership, it also throws whisky events around the country. I had the fortune to attend the Society’s San Francisco shindig, and can highly recommend it to anyone, especially the whisky novice. Unlike Whiskyfest or Whiskies of the World, the…

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Review: Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve and 12 Years Old

By Christopher Null | November 27, 2010 |

This Highlands malt (prounounced “Glen Geery”) is relatively unknown in the U.S. Closed briefly from 1995 to 1997, it is the easternmost distillery in the Highlands and is unpeated. Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve – This un-age-statemented bottling is a fine everyday dram, sweet and warming, with a bit of floral character, some hay, and a…

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Review: Glenfiddich 21, 30, and 40 Years Old

By Christopher Null | November 23, 2010 |

Glenfiddich is the number one selling single malt whisky in the world. And while the green, 12-year-old expression is a fixture at bars and liquor cabinets around the world, the Highlands distillery makes some exemplary — and very rare — old whiskys, as well. We got a look at some of these special bottlings firsthand,…

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Review: 8 Bruichladdich Expressions, 2010 Releases

By Christopher Null | November 20, 2010 |

Islay’s Bruichladdich produces so many whiskys that it’s hard to keep up. We got a look at eight of its most recent releases. Bruichladdich 16 Years Old First Growth Series: Cuvee E Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes Finish – Part of a series of six cuvees, each finished in a first-growth Bordeaux cask. This one is from…

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Review: Scotch Malt Whisky Society Casks 1.152 and 3.160

By Christopher Null | November 4, 2010 |

There are a handful of whiskey clubs out there, but few are as prolific and reputable as the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The Society has been in operation since 1983 and has bottled over 3,500 casks worth of whisky for its members. The SMWS, as it’s handily abbreviated, doesn’t just go get bottles off the…

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