Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch, Facts About Oak Barrels

So What Is Whiskey Afterall?

Oak CasksSO WHAT IS WHISKEY AFTER ALL?

To get directly to the point and without complicating it too much, any whiskey worth its name (and aged in oak casks) is a liquor prepared from a distillation of fermented grain mash that includes com, rye, malted barley or a combination of these different grains. Any good whiskey should also have a minimum of 40% ABV and must be kept to age in quality oak casks or barrels. There are mainly five sub-genres of oak casks whisky and different procedures go into making of these oak casks whiskeys. These sub-genres are oak casks Irish whiskey, oak casks scotch, oak casks bourbon, oak casks rye and oak casks Tennessee whisky.

SCOTCH

As has already been mentioned, all whisky (yes, whiskey is also spelt whisky, so let’s move on) is prepared from fermented grain mash. And scotch is a whiskey made from malted barley. Most scotch variants are in fact prepared from barley, yeast and water.

Another defining process is that of aging the thing. Scotch needs to be put in oak casks and these oak casks must contain the thing for at least three years to make it a scotch. And the ABV should be less than 94.8%.  The origin of the liquor is just as important. No matter what, if it does not come from Scotland, it never is a genuine scotch. Got the line?

To delve deeper into the matter, there are blended scotches and single malt. The scotch that is made of a single batch of whiskey is called single malt and that from a mixture of batches is called blended scotch.

Recommended Brands: Glenmorangie, Johnnie Walker, Highland Park.

IRISH WHISKEY

Te procedure of making Irish whiskey is not too different from scotch. It too needs oak casks for the preparation. These oak casks need to contain the preparation for at least three years just as the scotch whisky needs the oak casks to age. Moreover, similar to scotch, the genuine Irish whisky must be prepared in Ireland. However, in case of Irish whiskey, the quality of wood for the oak casks does not matter too much, for scotch. However, the oak casks for scotch must be made of a special type of wood.

The rules for making Irish whiskey are less rigorous as compared to scotch, too. We have already mentioned the oak casks quality. Naturally therefore, the varieties of this whiskey are greater.

Recommended Brands: Jameson, Tullamore Dew, Bushmills

LET US MOVE TO RYE THEN

Canada has been traditionally associated with making the top quality rye. This is the reason why it is also called Canadian Whisky. For close to150 years now, they are churning out quality rye distilled in oak casks or barrels. However, lately American rye has given them a beat on terms of quality. Canadian rye is often prepared with 9% more corn mash than the usual rye mash. However, in America, the rye must contain at least 51% rye mash with an ABV of no less than 80%. They are also aged in charred oak casks and these oak casks must be brand new, too.

Bulleit is a highly recommended brand.

TIME TO MOVE ON TO BOURBON NOW

The bourbon gain shares strong affinities with rye as long as the making process procedure goes. The charred oak casks are as important for bourbon as they are for rye. Moreover, the oak casks or the barrels must also have to be brand new, too. There is no minimum age restriction, but the connoisseurs would never call it straight bourbon if it is not aged in oak cask for a minimum of two years. In both making of bourbon and rye, the quality of the oak casks matters a lot, too.  Coloring or flavoring is not aloowed for any genuine bourbon either.

Bourbon is however prepared with a distillation of 51% corn. The fermentation is done from mixing in some mash in oak casks from an earlier fermented batch, preferably also preserved in oak casks. The process is known in the industry as ‘sour mash.’  The best bourbon is prepared in Kentucky of United States.

Recommended Brands: Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark.

BOURBON DOES NOT SOUND TOO BAD! BUT WHAT EXACTLY IS TENNESSEE WHISKEY?!

This is much the same as bourbon whiskey. They are aged in quality oak casks. And again, the oak casks must be spanking new. Jack Daniels, the brand that produces best Tennessee whiskey, however is reluctant to call their products bourbon since theirs is a type of stuff which gets filtered through thick maple charcoal before it passes into the charred oak casks.

And the obvious fact is that the genuine charred oak casks Tennessee whiskey is of course made in Tennessee.

Jack Daniels is the recommended brand.

ALL THOSE ARE AWESOME INFORMATION! ANYTHING MORE, THOUGH?

Yes, some tidbits you must know if you really want to be considered a connoisseur of whisky. The word whiskey originates from the Celtic region since traditionally the liquor was made in the regions of Scotland and Ireland. Most scotch drinks made in oak casks spell it whisky, with no “e.” Americans however prefer to spell their whiskey, also aged in oak casks, with that additional “e.” Spell it like that in Scotland, especially in reference to scotch in oak casks and you are in for some good trouble! So better be on your guard.

 THE RIGHT WAY TO DRINK WHISKEY

The important thing to know about whiskey drinking is that the quality whiskey, those aged in oak casks and barrels and with no additional flavor or color are connoisseur’s items. Never swig it as if you would a glass of beer. Drink it slowly, sip in a leisurely manner and just let the taste sip in quietly and smoothly and let the heavenly feeling get hold of you.

Remember, too, that whiskey is measured in fingers. So, you order one or two fingers of whiskey and never a full glass. That is the way to go for stuff specially aged in finest quality oak casks for the enjoyment of the sophisticated and the distinguished.

You can also either drink it plain or neat, without ice or ‘on the rocks’ that is with ice. Some may also like to water down their stuff a bit, Still others also mix other alcohol brands and juices to create mixed drink or cocktail such as classic Manhattan.

My personal favorite is a single whiskey stone of Jameson Irish Whisky in my rocks glass. Stones are ideal since it keeps the drink cool and at the same time, does not water it down or melt it either.

The bottom line always is that you should the brand that suits and pampers your taste buds and your heart most. Enjoy the delicacy and of course, drink safe!