WhiskyLive Barcelona is happening right now to satisfy Barcelona's Whisky Fans.
But for those of you who don't know a thing about Whisky - I'm here to help.
So pull up a comfy chair, grab a glass (and maybe a cigar) and listen in. With my Rough Guide to Whisky
below you'll be able to "Wow" your friends/colleagues/spouse with your new found knowledge of what some believe is the most sophisticated beverage one can imbibe. For some people, to have a knowledge and understanding of fine Single Malt Whisky is to have made it in the world - you are a sophisticaed gentleman/lady and you know how to appreciate the finer things in life.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...
along with Italy
- plus the Scandinavian
Countries - have some huge Whisky fans
, as well as very knowledgeable consumers - eg. They know the difference between a Single Malt
and a Blended Whisky
. And they will probably know where a whisky
comes from and where whiskey
(with an "e") comes from.
Well, do not fear if you don't know the above differences. Or what "non-chillfiltered
" or "added caramel
" means - I'm about to explain. If you do then feel free to jump ahead a bit.
Now, basically whisky
is made from water
, malted barley
. Nothing else. The colour
and most of the flavour
comes from the barrel
is put into after it is distilled. In order to call it whisky it must be kept in a second fill barrel - eg something used to be in the barrel beforehand - normally bourbon or sherry - and kept in that barrel for at least 3 years before being bottled. However, it is normally stored/"matured
" for longer. In order for it to be called "Scotch Whisky
" it needs to be matured in Scotland
. There are a lot more legal issues surrounding Whisky but I wont bore you.
Every year during the maturation
normally evaporates about 2% a year. Thus, when it comes time to bottle it there is a lot less in the barrel
than when it was first put in - let's say 10 years ago. Hence, the older the whisky the more expensive it is. Some distilleries
may lose over €1 million worth of whisky
due to evaporation a year. This is known as "the angels share
". The same thing happens with sherry
here in Spain
Then when the time comes to bottle the whisky
it must not be less than 40% proof - to still be called whisky
. Quite a common practice is to bottle
straight out of the barrel
- known as "cask strength
Now, I hear you asking - but what does "non-chillfiltered
" mean? I know you have been dying to learn. Well basically, some distilleries
filter their whisky
after it has come out of the cask
and before it is bottled.
This removes some fats from the alcohol
that sometimes turn cloudy - which puts some consumers off because they think something is wrong with their whisky. This process prevents the whisky
from going cloudy but actually can remove some of the flavour
from the whisky
. However, there is now quite a strong movement against this by more knowledgeable consumers.
Another "trick" that some distilleries
use is adding a type of caramel
to their whiskies
in order to make them appear darker in colour. Many people think that:
Dark Whisky = Old Whisky = Good Whisky = FALSE.
This is a complete myth - do not fall for it.
This added caramel
is only meant to darken the colour of the whisky and not meant to affect the taste at all - the whisky industry is adamant that it does not alter the taste but I'm not too sure. Imagine you have two glasses of water. One with this caramel
added to it and the other is just plain old boring water
. I bet you a bottle of whisky
that the one with the caramel
would taste sweeter!
The colour all comes from the wood so generally a lighter whisky
will have been aged in bourbon barrels
and a darker whisky
will have been matured
in sherry casks
So now we have whisky
and we have glasses
and we have poured ourself a dram
(or two) it's time to drink
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