Whiskey, quite simply, is among the most lavish of liquors: ordering a glass always raises the bar. I have recently begun to appreciate good a good whiskey. Mainly because my home town of Kansas City has it's own whiskey, Riegers, and friends often drink it here. It's fantastic in a Manhattan and goes down very smooth all by itself. You guys know I love my fancy cocktails!
Yet there are some people who have never tried whiskey, those poor unfortunate souls who frequently indulge in only gin or vodka. It's not these peoples' faults, we must not go after them in some sort of Whiskey Rebellion. Whiskey, instead, is to blame: after all, this is one drink that is intimidating to the novice.
Not only does whiskey demand a certain sophistication, like a drink that rolls its eyes in the direction of light beer and one that refuses to sit anywhere other than the top shelf, but it also comes in an overwhelming variety. So, let's learn a bit about what's out there on the shelves.
The following list offers the novice a little help as it showcases the different types of whiskey: go ahead and drink it in.
These whiskies tend to answer to their first name: Scotch. Scotch is whiskey that is distilled in Scotland (a whiskey wearing a kilt is a sign of validity). They are typically distilled twice, but may be distilled three times. Scotch must be aged in oak casks for at least three years.
Scotch can be made from malted barely, unmalted barely, other unmalted grains or a mix. It can also come from a single distillery, or several. Regardless of the type, Scotch is well liked among drinkers: in many peoples' opinions, it malts in your mouth and not in your hand.
Initially, the Japanese took a page from the Scotch playbook and attempted to recreate the same whiskey in Japan. However, because the ingredients used in Scotland weren't widely available, they were forced to deviate from their original plan. Still, Japanese Whiskey does a good job of carrying on the traditions introduced by the Scottish, it just tastes different.
Japanese Whiskey typically does not contain wheat or rye (two ingredients essential to many types of whiskey), and is instead made using millet, rice, and corn. Their whiskey is also initially fermented in a fashion similar to that of their sake. This produces a drink with an innovative taste fit for a king, or at least an emperor.
Irish Whiskey is a whiskey made in Ireland (who knew the Irish drank!). It can be produced a variety of ways, the most unique being in a pot. Pure pot still whiskey, available only from Ireland and made completely with barely, has a spicy, different, and highly sought-after taste.
Irish whiskey can be single malt (made from malted barely and distilled inside a pot still) or grain whiskey (made from grain and distilled inside a column still). Grain whiskey is a lighter whiskey and is rarely bottled on its own. It is often used as a blender with single malt. Though there are some similarities between Irish Whiskey and Scotch, Irish Whiskey does not involve use of peat. This causes Irish Whiskey to be without the smokiness Scotch exhibits.
So there you have it: round one of the whiskeys (yes, this round's on me). Stay tuned next week for part two where we will discuss Indian Whiskey, Canadian Whiskey, and American Whiskey. In the mean time, the above whiskies should keep you busy, and keep you satisfied.