The word Whisky (as it is written in England and Canada) or Whiskey (as they prefer in Ireland and U.S.), as most of you already know, refers to the alcoholic beverage that is distilled from a mash of fermented grains, mainly barley, corn, wheat and rye; after one or several distillations it is aged in wooden barrels, traditionally of white oak. Its graduation ranges between 35% and 50%.
The drink comes originally from Ireland or Scotland, this point is still controversial. The drink won popularity since the creation of the distillation column of continuous operation (Coffey Columns), thanks to it a more refined alcohol was achieved, soft and with a higher alcohol content. Currently the whisky is produced in many parts of the world, being the most recognized producers Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the USA; although other areas like Japan, Wales, France or Spain have launched themselves to the whisky production, with good results. Besides, whisky is the most consumed drink in the world.
There are several types of whisky according to its origin or the main ingredient used in its elaboration. The country of origin has a great influence in the the whiskies characteristics, since each one has its own style and its guidelines for the elaboration. In addition, the different methods of production, the various types of cereals used in their preparation, the type of water used, etc., contribute to its unique characteristics. Finally, during the aging, whisky acquires new tastes and aromas, so in order to get to know the whisky it is important to pay attention to the aging process as well, normally barrels that previously contained Bourbon or Sherry are used during the aging and the time that the product remains in the barrel determines the age of the same.
According to its origin we can outlined the Scotch and Irish whisky, because these are places of origin of this drink; although they are certainly not the only nationalities that we can find on the market today.
Scotch whisky cannot be distilled in any other place than Scotland, although it can be exported in order to be blended and bottled in another destination. This whisky is obtained after a double distillation of a mixture that consists of at least 60% of malting barley and is completed with diverse malts. Before proceeding to the fermentation, the cereal is dried on peat, which gives a smoked character to the product. The distillation can be carry out by various distilleries and mixed later on. The scotch must be aged during, at least, 3 years in oak barrels and it should have an alcohol volume of minimum 40%.
In the production of Irish whisky the raw material varies, it can be not malted barley, malt, rye and even oats. For the elaboration of this whisky a triple distillation is carried out and in the drying process it is used coal and closed furnaces, in order not to interfere with the flavour. The product is aged, for a minimum of 3 years, in barrels that, usually, has previously contained sherry or bourbon.
In terms of the raw material that is used in the preparation of the product, we would like to highlight the Malt and the corn, although they are not the only ones on the market.
It comes from the current state of Kentucky and, nowadays, it must come from the USA in order to be considered Bourbon. It must be prepared with at least 51% malted corn, which is complete with rye or barley. It goes through a single distillation and then it matures in new barrels (single use) of burned white oak, a minimum aging period is not necessary for it to be consider Bourbon (except in the case of straight Bourbon). the volume of alcohol in the final product cannot exceed 40%.
It comes substantially from the Scottish and Canadian Highlands. It is entirely made on the basis of malted barley and normally it is produced in small and classic stills. It has a stronger flavour than other whiskies; it is intense, complex and its taste highly depend on where the distillery is based. Malt blended Whisky comes either from different distilleries or barrels or it is mixed with grain.