Scotch from the Beginning-
The Process: Here are a couple of basic definitions for those dabbling in
Scotch for the 1st time. First, the real tough one:"Scotch Whiskey", by
law is whiskey made only in Scotland. Amazing, eh? Another basic: single
malts are produced by individual distillerys, the distillery name on the
bottle. Scotland is home to around 140 individual distilleries, more per
square mile than anywhere in the world. Combining a variety of single
malts together creates that smooth taste associated with blended whiskey;
single malt is about its individuality and unique taste. OK, enough of
the basics; how do you make the stuff? The primary recipe is
simple:Malted Barley, water, and yeast. During the malting process, the
barley is dried with peat, a natural fuel of dried earth, giving Scotch
it's distinct smoky flavor.
The Regions:"Water of Life"-that's the meaning of "Usqua", the original
Gaelic word for Scotch. The traditional birth of whiskey-making is
reputed to be more than 500 years ago when, in 1494, the sale of malt for
the making of whiskey is 1st said to be recorded in the Scottish
Exchequer Rolls. Location and climate help mold the final character of a
distillery's end product. Scotland is peppered with geographic
variations, from jutting rocky ridges and crags in the northern highlands
to the gentle green glens in the lowlands.
A wide range of weather, from a constant blanket of rain and clouds on
the western islands to long, harsh biting winters in the highlands. The
large copper "pot stills" where whiskey is processed at each distillery
have there own slight but distinct variations, too. Talisker, for
example, has a unique dip at the top of the still that, together with
it's rugged surrounding coastline, create the whiskey's renowned spicy,
marine character. 6 regions, make up the so-called "Classic Malts"
*Glenkinchie(Glen-kin-chee)-From the lowlands, a light,smooth malt with a
slightly dry finish. The lowland area is seeped in a history of farming
on its rolling, gentle green hills. A milder whiskey. aaahhhh.
*Dalwhinnie(Doll-win-ee)-From the northern highlands, a slightly fruity
aroma with a heathery finish. The region rises toward the wild, windswept
moors of the Grampain mountains. Sweet in taste, it is often enjoyed
after dinner. Mmmmmm.
*Cragganmore(Crag-an-more)-From the river Spey area, a firm body with a
malty, smoky finish. The Speyside area is home of the many "whiskey
trail" distilleries because the river and it's tributaries are vital
water sources. A deep whiskey, not for beginners. AAAAAAAh.
*Oban(O-bahn)-From the harbor town of Oban, a delicate, peaty aroma with
a long, smooth finish. The distillery has been at the heart of town for
over 200 years. Great for beginners. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.
*Talisker(tal-is-ker)-From the Isle of Skye, known for it's rainy, harsh
climate, gives this whiskey it's full flavor with a hint of seaweed.
Often called the "love-hate" whisky, people are either mesmerized by it's
marine-like quality or not. The spicy twang comes from their uniquely
shaped stills. Another deep whiskey. Whooooo.
*Lagavulin(Lag-a-voo-lin)-From the Islands, a very rich, deep smoky and
peaty flavor. The climate here requires hardiness and strength for
survival. The distillery literally juts up against the water and crashing
waves often break against the distillery walls. The granddaddy of
whiskey. Ahh, Whoo, AAAh, Mmmm, aahh.
Hope this adds to your drams of discovery. Here's to your prosperity and
continued successes down the road. (Or should I say highway) ;-)
who never knew his grandaddy and looks forward to meeting Lagavulin. And
still waits for an answer on tobaccos history on the Isles.