Who invented whisky / whiskey?
The true origin of whisky / whiskey has been a subject of contention between Scotland and Ireland. And it is for exactly this reason that each insists on its own spelling – whisky or whiskey – as a means of distinguishing themselves from each other. It is at least indisputable that the golden elixir from Ireland AND Scotland conquered the rest of the world in the 17th Century. The term whisky was first mentioned in 1636, although it had, of course, been distilled in both countries for centuries before that. Christian monks brought the art of distilling to the Celts in the 5th Century. The Celts in turn further developed the method of distilling in a copper pot over the centuries that followed.
What is the difference between whisky and whiskey?
Whether whisky is spelled with or without an ‘e’ depends upon which country it comes from. In the USA and Ireland, the spelling ‘whiskey’ is the norm. In Scotland and the rest of the world, it is spelled ‘whisky’. A little mnemonic can help to remember the difference. If there is a letter ‘e’ in the name of the country, then the spirit produced is whiskey. Example: United States, Ireland. Counterexample: Scotland, Canada, Japan/Nippon. Every whisky / whiskey is separated into various classes according to its origin, the type of grain used and its production method. Irish Whiskey only comes from Ireland, Scotch only comes from Scotland. Regional designations such as Highland Whisky, Speyside Whisky and Islay Whisky are protected by law.
Whisky and Whiskey Acording to Production and Ageing
Single Malt, Single Grain, Blended Malt und Blended Grain are the main terms for Scottish and Irish whiskies. The quality and character of a top-class finished whisky or whiskey is determined by the care with which it has been made, the distillation method, the raw materials used and the length of its ageing period. Whether the spirit comes from various distilleries (vatted) and has been blended, or from a single distillery (single malt) also plays a role. Blended whisky could be made up of sprits from as many as 50 distilleries, whereas a Single Malt must come from only one single distillery. There are especially high quality, limited and very aged sorts that even come from only one single cask.
What is in Whisky and Whiskey
Whisky is distilled exclusively from grain mash. The distilled spirit then ages for at least three years in wood casks. The basis for all kinds of Scotch whisky is malted barley. In the USA, on the other hand, maize is the norm, but barley, rye and wheat may also be used. In Ireland, oats may be used instead of maize. American whiskey generally has a higher alcohol content than well-aged, milder Scotch or Irish whiskey. In Thailand, whisky has been distilled from rice, however this variation hasn’t been able to assert itself on the market. The type of wood used for the casks (usually oak), smoke and roast aromas, the previous use of the cask and the individual microclimate of the ageing facility are responsible for the flavour of a whisky.
Whisky or Whiskey According to Type of Grain:
- Barley, Rye, Maize, Wheat, Oats, Rice (seldom)
- Malt Whisky: is made solely of malted barley, Single Malt = distilled in pot stills at a single distillery
- Grain Whisky: made of malted and unmalted barley, wheat and maize, and generally distilled in cost-saving column stills
- Blended Whisky: a blend of various types of whisky (usually grain) in order to maintain a consistant quality
- Pot Still Whiskey: traditional Irish malt whiskey containing unmalted barley and oats
- Bourbon Whiskey: American whiskey made of at least 51 % maize (corn) with the advantage of a short ripening period and a shorter ageing period
- Rye Whiskey: the original American whiskey with at least 51 % rye
- Corn Whiskey: low-priced maize whiskey with at least 79 % maize
Whisky / Whiskey Around the World
Traditionally distilled and aged Scotch Whisky und Irish Whiskey are some of the best kinds of whisky and, since the onset of globalisation, have been imitated by many. Colonists and emigrants brought their whisky recipes and know-how along with them into the ‘brave new world’ - the North American continent. Due to the different geographical conditions, the production processes were adapted to the column still. The most impressive result is the American Bourbon, which has developed its own special character and even has its own designation of origin - Kentucky and Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey.
Good Whisky from Europe and Asia
Even the English have tried their hand at making whisky, but due to the negligible transport distance, real Scotch is still the preferred choice in Britain. Then followed Europe, Australia and Asia. As a former British colony, India developed its own variety and is now amongst the leading producers of low-price blended whisky worldwide. Japan, in contrast, has copied the Scottish pot still production process right down to the last detail. Quality Japanese whiskies have long been able to compete with the best Scotch whiskies. Even Canadian, New Zealand and Australian whiskies have their own enthusiasts beyond their own borders.
Can Germans make whisky?
Distilleries in the German speaking realm produce small but fine spirits for regional enthusiasts and whisky collectors. Imported wash and low wines are often used for these products. In Switzerland, for example, distilling spirits from staple foods (grains, potatoes) was illegal until 1999. Whisky and vodka were imported. In the meanwhile our neighbours have caught up, and Switzerland is the newest country of production for whisky. Whisky connoisseurs, however, still swear by the traditional whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, the USA and the relative newcomer Japan.
Buy the best Whisky at Vinello
If you are looking to buy good whisky online, you have found the right place at Vinello. In addition to first class whiskies, you can also buy other exquisite spirits and naturally high quality wines from Europe and South Africa. Drink an American blended whiskey straight up, on the rocks or in a cocktail. Japanese whisky is wonderful as a digestif after a good meal. Well aged Scottish whisky and Irish whiskey can be best enjoyed pure, to round off an eventful day or a pleasant evening with friends. All of these various whiskies can be conveniently ordered online from Vinello.