Craft & heritage
How to choose it, how to enjoy it
lthough made from only a few key ingredients, whisky (or whiskey) is one of the most deliciously complex spirits in the world. It’s the where and the how of the whisky making process that have the biggest influence on taste and aroma.
Five whisky basics, according to whisky expert Dr. Nick Morgan:
1. It’s okay, in fact it’s best, to drink whisky with water. Sip it neat first to compare tastes with and without water. Note how the flavours and aromas open up with just a few drops of water. Mixers are no longer taboo, if you want a longer drink.
2. Hold your mouth slightly open when you sniff your whisky to explore the aromas.
3. Whisky is a great accompaniment to food - and sensational with chocolate. Pair different styles of whisky with diverse smoked fish, cheeses, cold cuts and desserts.
4. Whisky is best enjoyed with friends. Hold an informal whisky tasting and compare notes between malts from different regions or a variety of blends.
5. Flavour is more important than age. Ignore whisky snobs. Enjoying whisky is an entirely personal thing and you are the best judge of what you like.
To ‘e’ or not to ‘e’: the big whisky question
As with the ‘color’ and ‘flavor’ of their whisky, the Americans like to spell things differently. That’s why you’ll see whiskey with an ‘e’ on whiskeys (note the plural) made in the US. The same goes for whiskey from Ireland. Pretty much everywhere else – Scotland, Canada, Japan, India– you’ll come across whisky spelt without an ‘e’ and whiskies in plural. To keep things simple, the A&J team uses whisky when talking about the spirit in general terms, with no offense meant to the fantastic American and Irish distillers.
- Single malt – Single malt whisky is distilled at a single distillery from water and malted barley without the addition of any other cereals. Single malts are never blended with a product from another distillery. Unique production and regimes create a wide variation in aromas and flavours among single malt whiskies. While typically associated with Scotland, single malt whiskies are also produced in other countries. Bushmills,for example, produces outstanding single malt Irish whiskeys. Talisker, Lagavulin and Cardhu are all examples of single malt scotch whisky.
- Single grain – Single grain whisky is distilled at a single distillery using water and malted or unmalted whole grains. The majority of single grain whisky is produced for blending, however Port Dundas and Cameronbridge are two examples of excellent single grain scotch whiskies.
- Blended – This is a blend of one or more single malts, with one or more grain whiskies. Blends can contain anywhere from two or three malts to 20 or 30. Blended whiskies are among the world’s highest quality and most popular premium spirits, and include Johnnie Walker Black label and Johnnie Walker Gold label reserve.
- Blended malts – Blended malt whisky is a blend of single malt whiskies which have been distilled at more than one distillery. Johnnie Walker Odyssey is a premium blended malt.
We break whisky into the following types:
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