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Whisky 101 and Whisky Stuff for the Connoisseur


Whisky is one of those beverages where the craft and time needed to get it to a smooth and mellow drink, can be hugely appreciated. Among other factors such as malting and water profiles, the longer a whisky is left to age in barrels, the smoother and more rounded the flavour becomes.


So how is whisky made? (the short version) Much like beer, to make whisky you need malted grains – but in the case of Bourbon: 51% needs to be corn. You then ‘mash’ those grains, add yeast which will ferment the convertible sugars from the grain into alcohol. Then after fermentation the wort is distilled. Alcohol has a boiling point of about ±80*c (for ethanol/grain alcohol) and water 100*c. Therefore the alcohol vapours are able to be siphoned off before the water evaporates. This alcohol is then diluted proportionately and then aged in oak barrels for 3+ years. This process smoothens out the whisky and gives its mellow, vanilla, caramel flavours.


Scotch whiskies, Bourbons, Irish and American Whiskeys all could do with a bit of dilution when they’ve been aged for 12 years or less. Anything above and you’re only looking to slightly chill your whisky to take the edge off. That’s where whisky blocks come in. These ingenius, naturally made granite or soapstone blocks will chill your dram without diluting, so you assured your prized whisky’s flavours will remain unadulterated.


Irish Whiskey – “Whiskey” with an “e” is normally added to Irish Whiskeys and their influence on American Whiskeys means a lot of American and international Whiskey us the “e” too. Irish whiskeys are distilled 3 times not 2 like other whiskies.

Scotch Whiskys – Made from malt and grains. Malted barley normally. Must be aged in oak barrels for min of 3 years. “Single” grain and malt refers not to grains but a single distillery being used.

Bourbon Whiskey – Bourbon is made in bourbon county and America’s only native spirit. Made from grains with no less than 51% corn. Only allowed to be called bourbon when made and consumed in America. Straight bourbon is aged less than four years. Other bourbon needs to be aged in new charred oak barrels for a min of 2 years.

“All bourbon is whiskey, but all whiskey isn’t bourbon!”

The popular Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey is in fact not a Bourbon but a Tennessee whiskey made only in Tennessee.

Alcohol proof – You’ve seen whisky’s alcohol content being described as “Proof”. Each point of proof equals 0.5% alcohol content – ie half. So a whisky with a proof of 80 is around 40% alcohol by volume.


About Author

Lover of gadgets, men's culture, cool stuff, Earl Grey tea and all things manly. An optimist in his prime. When he's not keeping the wheels turning at Mantality HQ you'll find him trawling the web, and visiting trade shows to find the newest and coolest gadgets. During his down time he's usually with his 2 dogs, on the golf course, cycling or basking in the literary company of Oscar Wilde, Bret Easton Ellis or Martin Amis whilst drinking espresso strong enough to strip paint.

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