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: GlenDronach 12, 15, and 18 Years Old (2010)

By Christopher Null | October 1, 2010 |

The GlenDronach distillery in the Scottish Highlands had been dark for years, but the Scotch boom of the 1990s led to it being restarted in 2002 in order to take obvious advantage of the trend. Now part of the Chivas empire, the distillery’s first new-era products are now live, with 12, 15, and 18 Year…

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Review: The Black Grouse Blended Scotch

By Christopher Null | September 30, 2010 |

A move is afoot, and if you’ve been reading the whiskey pages here at Drinkhacker over the last few months, you’ve probably got a whiff of it: Wood. Wood is in in a major way. More wood. Stronger wood. Stranger wood. Every whiskeymaker from California to Kyoto seems to be experimenting with extra or unique…

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Review: Springbank CV

By Christopher Null | September 28, 2010 |

Springbank is one of those whisky gems that serious Scotch fans love — myself included — but which is sadly underrepresented in the U.S. at bars and liquor stores. Springbank appears to be on the rise, though, and the Campbeltown-located distillery has put out its first new spirit in years. Like standard Springbank expressions, CV…

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Review: The Balvenie PortWood 21 Years Old, Rum Cask 14 Years Old, and 40 Years Old (2010)

By Christopher Null | September 13, 2010 |

More new whiskies from Speyside’s The Balvenie are on the way in coming months, and we got a sneak preview of two of them (plus a taste of an old favorite). Thoughts (based on early bottlings) follow. The Balvenie PortWood 21 Years Old (2010) – One of the distillery’s finest expressions, finished with five months of…

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Review: Cardhu 12 Years Old (2010)

By Christopher Null | July 13, 2010 |

Cardhu Single Malt — a major component of Johnnie Walker blends — has been out of U.S. liquor stores for years — not since 2003 has a single malt version of Cardhu been for sale in the U.S. (A controversial “pure malt” expression of Cardhu — a blend of single malts from various distilleries —…

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Review: The Glenrothes Alba Reserve

By Christopher Null | July 3, 2010 |

This new whisky from The Glenrothes has the distinction of being the distillery’s first kosher whisky. Now in limited release in a half-dozen states in the U.S. (sorry, Tennessee!), this Speyside single malt carries no age statement but is named after the type of oak (scientific name: Quercus Alba — American oak, ex-bourbon barrels) in…

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Review: The Dalmore 18 Years Old (2010) and Isle of Jura Prophecy

By Christopher Null | June 15, 2010 |

These two whiskys from Dalmore (Isle of Jura is part of its empire) were both launched late last year, but they weren’t available when Richard Paterson recently came to town to show off the Dalmore line. Recently he sent along samples of both for our review. Comments follow. The Dalmore 18 Years Old (2010) –…

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Review: Bruichladdich Organic 2003, Links 15, Oloroso Sherry Edition 1998, and Peat

By Christopher Null | June 10, 2010 |

Islay’s Bruichladdich keeps pumping out whisky faster that I can drink it. Here’s a look at four recently-released expressions from the vaunted distillery. Bruichladdich Organic 2003 – A young whisky — it’s unclear exactly how young since the spirit carries no age statement, but it’s 7 years old at most — this light spirit is…

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Review: Johnnie Walker Complete Lineup (2010)

By Christopher Null | June 7, 2010 |

Here’s a great gift idea for Father’s Day: One each of the five expressions that the whisky legends at Johnnie Walker. You don’t actually have to buy him five full bottles (what dad is worth that kind of expense?). Instead, JW has a nice little set of 200ml bottles of four of the five expressions…

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Review: The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1973

By Christopher Null | May 13, 2010 |

This new, limited release whisky has spent 36 long years in cask (one sherry cask and two American oak barrels have been blended together), waiting for just the right amount of time to get from oak into the bottle and from there into your belly. This is a whisky that feels just about perfect, cooled…

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