A few guidelines:
1. What Is Scotch? Scotch is whisky produced in Scotland. It’s the alchemical combination of water, malted barley, and other whole grains, distilled at an alcohol by volume somewhere between 40 and 94.8 percent and rested in oak for at least three years. Bourbon is whiskey produced in the US.
2. The Flavour: Scotch gets its flavor from a combination of barley, casks, and from the distillation process and equipment. The precise shape of the copper stills used in distillation is specific to each distillery, and actually alters the taste of the new make spirit, which means that whisky coming from different distilleries and from different casks are bound to taste different.
3. The Varieties: This is a lot to take in, so pay attention. Single-malt Scotch whisky is distilled at a single distillery in pot stills from 100 percent malted barley. Single-grain Scotch whisky is distilled at a single distillery from usually Corn or Wheat and maybe with some malted barley. Blended Scotch whisky is a blend of one or more single-malt whiskies and one or more single-grain whiskies. Blended malt whisky is a vatting of single-malt whisky from more than one distillery. Blended grain whisky is a blend of single-grain whisky from more than one distillery.
4. Tasting your whisky:
The “tasting” process is about setting up expectations of what your whisky experience will be.
Eyeing: The colour of the whisky will provide you with some information about the age and type of cask and thus the flavour range you might expect. Legs will say something about the viscosity, likely mouth feel and the alcohol levels.
Nosing: More important than tasting in terms of information, as we have more receptors in our nose than we do in our mouth. Allow sufficient time for the aromas to develop, don’t be in a rush to swig it back.
Tasting: Give it time and hold the whisky in your mouth for a time before swallowing. You are looking for the taste( sweet, salty etc), the mouth feel(hot, dry etc) and the tail (short, long etc). Important in a well rounded whisky is that there is consistency between what you nose and what you taste.
5. Having a dram:
Whisky & Water: Some prefer their whisky with water. Water actually opens up the flavors of whisky, which is why seasoned whisky drinkers add in a few drops before tasting.
But not more then that, if you are a purist! Unless of course you are in Japan where the practice is to drink whisky as a high ball normally with Soda. As Dave Broom would say “Water is your friend”, although not everyone would agree with him!
Whisky & Ice: Drinking whisky is about enjoyment, so you drink your whisky in what ever way you wish. With ice; essential in cocktails; the whisky will be softer and cooler. Think about hot weather, but perhaps water or ice, but maybe not both!
6. Blend doesn’t mean bad: The flavor of a good blend is just as carefully calibrated as that of a single malt, so don’t be put off by a blend when you are selecting your whisky.
7. The older it get, the Weaker it becomes: The age on Scotch whisky bottles refers to the youngest whisky included in the blend. Alcohol evaporates faster than water in the mild Scottish climate, meaning Scotch doesn’t get stronger as it ages, it actually mellows.
8. Fancy a Cocktail? Drinking Scotch neat is everybody cup of tea, luckily there are some great cocktails to try. Some recipes you will find in other section of this website.