Whiskey is such a recognizable beverage it almost seems ridiculous to pose the question - what is Whisky liqour.
Nevertheless, in spite of having been around for many centuries, the majority of folks only know it by name and
taste but very little else about this golden beverage.
Although some of the expertise goes back thousands of years, the knowledge for making whiskey is much more
recent. These liquors, which are made from barley, rye or corn, have much in common with beer, which was made as
far back as the ancient Egyptians. However, whiskey is distilled, not fermented, and that practice only began in
the middle ages, most likely by monks in Ireland or Scotland. Some expert’s put the beginning of whiskey at the
early fifteenth century, while others reckon is was nearer the end.
Interestingly, although technology in many areas has improved considerably, the fundamental process is still
much the same today. Distillers of the sixteenth century would recognize and almost certainly know how to use the
majority of the equipment of the modern era without difficulty.
How Whisky Liquor is Made
While different grains can be used, barley is one of the most common. The seed is soaked for a couple of days
until it germinates, and then baked in a kiln to halt the process. Enzymes in the germination process produce
sugars that are then turned into alcohol, similar to the beer making process. However, fermentation of the type
used to make beer will only produce alcohol by volume (ABV) concentrations of about fifteen percent maximum.
Distillation is the key to making whiskeys of seventy, eighty or more proof. The term proof means double the
Scotch whisky, or simply Scotch is a variation on the basic brew. You will often see the word Whisky spelt as
Whiskey. It is alleged that the Irish distillers in Dublin added the 'e' later to distinguish their product from
the Scottish version.
The chief difference in Scotch whisky (besides the spelling) is the burning of peat to dry the barley, which
imparts much of the distinctive flavor of this northern drink.
From there, the process can take any number of different routes. The choice made dictates whether the result
will be a 'Single Malt', or a 'Blend', or some other variation. Single malt is the product of one distillery, using
exclusively malted barley. Blended malt combines the product of several distilleries to achieve liquor unique to
every brand. Using rye, corn or other grain mixed with the barley produces a ‘grain whiskey’.
However, that is only the start of what goes into making a fine whiskey. The clear liquid that is now about
seventy percent alcohol is poured into large oak casks called barrels. By law, it has to mature for at least three
years to earn the name 'whiskey'. Nevertheless, most good whiskey, and all good scotch, will have matured for at
least ten years before being bottled. Unlike wines, whiskeys do not age further in the bottle. The scotch casks
themselves are specially prepared, usually having already been used to make bourbon or sherry.
The aging process is also hundreds of years old, and the product the result of recipes handed down or developed
over that period. Nevertheless, the fine liquor produced is enjoyed in much the same way as it was then: slowly and