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Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch. They bear differing names, but they all fall under the same umbrella. From Jim Beam to Johnny Walker, this iconic liquor isn’t only of American ancestry. The Irish and even the Japanese make impressive batches of their own. Ready to learn more? Check it out.
How it’s made
Whiskey, at its purest, is little more than a fermented grain mash. What’s interesting is that the types of grain used can vary greatly. Everything from corn and rye to wheat and barley can be used to make the mash; each main grain bringing with it a unique flavor.
The mash is distilled, typically in copper, to remove sulfur flavors. Modern makers have begun to use stainless steel stills with copper traces instead. No matter the grain used to make the mash, or the metal used to distill it, what will always be the same, however, is the aging process. Whiskey is almost always left to ferment and age in oak barrels. Many believe that the longer a whiskey ages, the better the flavor will be.
Perhaps the most well-known type of whiskey is the popular single malt. This is a whiskey made from a single grain and in a single distillery. This is not the only type of whiskey out there, though. Here are a few other designations that you may come across at BevMo.
Blended Whiskey- Similar to a blended malt, this whiskey is also a mixture. Whereas a blended malt uses whiskeys made of the same grain from different distilleries, a blended whiskey will use different whiskeys entirely. They may or may not be from the same distillery. This is the most typical type of whiskey produced from Ireland and Canada. Most Scotch is blended whiskey.
Single Cask- These are the purest whiskey out there. Not only are they single malt, but they are also all from the same singular still, or cask. No blending allowed here, these whiskeys are often labeled with specific barrel and bottle numbers. The flavor can vary wildly from cask to cask, and these are often used as collectors’ items.
Made in the USA
Any conversation about whiskey would be incomplete without talking about Tennessee whiskey. While it can be made anywhere, not just in the state of Tennessee, the process creates a flavor believed to be superior in smoothness to other bourbons. The key difference is that the whiskey is filtered through charcoal. This method, known as the Lincoln County Process, is used to create many of the most respected whiskeys in the world, including Jack Daniels.
Often seen as a world leader, American whiskeys are subject to some strict guidelines. Among them, the cereal mash may be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol by volume. They may not be barreled at any potency higher than 125 proof. How do they get from 125 proof to 80% by volume? By adding nothing except pure water to the final product. The whiskey must be aged in uncharred oak barrels unless it is corn whiskey, which is a legal version of moonshine. One last rule? No additional coloring or flavors may be added to the whiskey.
Outside of the states, many other countries have begun to produce reputable whiskey as well. Of particular note, Australia Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, India, Japan, and Scotland are considered world leaders.