Is it whisky or whiskey?
Is it bourbon, scotch, or rye? There seem to be myriad types of whiskey (whisky when you are talking about scotch). Each type is different based on its ingredients, the aging process, and its region of origin. Whiskies made in America and Ireland are spelled “whiskey” while Canada and Scotland spell it “whisky.” More than spelling separates these tasty, relatively healthy alcoholic beverages, though. You read that right… healthy.
No matter how you spell it, whisky is one of the healthiest adult drinks around. It has a low glycemic index, and it boasts antioxidant properties comparable to those of red wine, thereby lowering the risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Of course, these health benefits require drinking in moderation; do not down an entire bottle of your favorite scotch in hopes of staving off diabetes!
The Difference Between Single Malt and Blended Scotch
Scotch whisky originates in Scotland, hence the name. Scotch was originally distilled from malted barley, although distilleries introduced wheat and rye into the recipe in the late 1700s. The whisky is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years, and the bottle’s label includes an “age statement” that indicates the number of years the scotch was aged.
Single malt scotch comes from a single distillery, in a pot still with a fermented mash of malted grain. The goal in distilling single malt scotch is creating a whisky with distinctive flavors unique to the distillery creating it. Blended scotch whisky is exactly what the name implies: a blend of two or more single malt scotch whiskies with corn and/or wheat whiskies, using a column still. The goal for blended scotch is a smooth, versatile drink.
There is some snobbishness regarding people’s preference for either single malt scotch or blended scotch. Typically, self-proclaimed connoisseurs claim single malt is always superior. The reality is that these two drinks are not meant to be or taste the same. Each whisky’s distillation requires its own expert, master craftsman to create it.
The Best Single Malt Scotch Whiskies
Dalmore is one of the most highly rated single malt scotch whiskies. It originates in the Scottish Highlands, and drinkers describe it as a balanced yet complex whisky, with flavors of fruit, spice, cola, and praline. It has a luscious aroma of buttercream and honeycomb with a peppery smoothness. Drinkers are willing to pay handsomely for Dalmore, with prices ranging from the low 100s up to thousands of dollars for a single bottle.
Laphroaig from Islay is a “fiery beast” of a whisky, with an aroma of focaccia, smoked nuts, hot peppers, and fruitcake. It has a hot smoothness with a normal finish and the flavor of chestnut honey, iodine, and white cigar ash. Drinkers recommend serving Laphroaig over ice, with a fine cigar in your other hand.
The Best Blended Scotch Whiskies
John Walker & Sons is one of the most highly rated blended scotch whiskies, with a warming smoothness and peppery finish. It features the enticing aroma of spiced toffee and fruitcake, with a flavor of caramelized fruits, smoked nuts, spices, and pepper. Expert tasters describe it as a “fantastically robust and flavorful blend” and advise drinking it neat.
Next in line is Johnnie Walker Blue, which is spicy and fruity with a warming smoothness. It has a dark aroma of nuts, chocolate, peat, and tobacco, with a spicy, honey, creamy flavor that tastes great either neat or on the rocks.
A great scotch is a treat, whether it is single malt or a blended variety. There are times when only top single malt fills the bill. You are craving that unique, distinctive flavor created by a master distiller. Other times, you want the smooth, light finish of a blended scotch whisky. Luckily, your choices are nearly endless. Have fun trying the many scotch whiskies Gilbert’s own Quick ‘N’ Shine keeps in stock.