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faqknowledge/whisky

  •   What is single-malt whisky?

  •   Will whisky go bad?

  •   How do I store whisky properly?

  •   Will my whisky age?

  •   What is cask-strength whisky?

  •   What is the right way to fully appreciate a good whisky?

  •   What does the age statement mean?

  •   What’s the difference between scotch, whisky, whiskey and bourbon?

  •   What is considered better: single-malt, pure-malt, single-grain or blended whisky and what are the differences?

  •   Are there well-known and trustworthy ratings/critics/reviews for whiskies similar to Robert Parker for wines?

 

What is single-malt whisky?

 

Single-malt Scotch whisky must meet the following criteria:

 

  •   Produced at only one distillery

  •   Made exclusively from malted barley

  •   Aged for a minimum of 3 years in oak casks

 

Will whisky go bad?

 

As long as it is kept out of sunlight, whisky will last in its airtight bottle indefinitely.

 

How do I store whisky properly?

 

Bottles should be stored upright and away from direct sunlight.

 

Will my whisky age?

 

Once bottled, a whisky will not change, provided it is not exposed to direct sunlight. This makes it a very safe item to collect.

 

What is cask-strength whisky?

 

When whisky comes out of the barrel, it is usually above 40% ABV: often, it is between 50-60%, though there is no limit. The majority of whiskies are diluted with water before bottling to bring them down to 40-45% for ease of drinking and to give the desired flavor.

 

Whiskies bottled at cask strength are not diluted, and what you taste from the bottle is exactly what came out of the barrel. Some people use a dropper to dilute cask-strength whiskies in the glass – the dilution ratio is a result of experimentation and preference – while others simply drink cask-strength as-is.

 

While cask-strength bottling is by no means rare, it is less common.

 

What is the right way to fully appreciate a good whisky?

 

As with any drink, there is no "right" or "wrong" way to appreciate a whisky: you should drink it in whatever way pleases you.

 

That said, we do have some recommendations on our tasting page.

 

What does the age statement mean?

 

The age statement on a bottle of whisky refers to the number of years for which the whisky has been aged in barrels after distillation, before bottling. In a blended whisky, the age statement is that of the youngest whisky used.

 

What’s the difference between scotch, whisky, whiskey and bourbon?

 

Scotch is a whisky from Scotland. "Whisky" is made in Scotland, while "whiskey" refers to whiskeys from Ireland and the US.

 

Bourbon is a style of American whiskey made primarily (at least 51%) from corn whose history goes back to the 18th century, though the use of "Bourbon" as a name for this style of whiskey dates to the 1820s, and it only gained popularity in Kentucky in the 1870s. Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels, though there is no minimum age requirement.

 

What is considered better: single-malt, pure-malt, single-grain or blended whisky and what are the differences?

 

Blended-malt, vatted-malt, and pure-malt all refer to a blended whisky composed of various single-malt whiskies from different distilleries.

 

Single-malt whisky comes from a single distillery and is made exclusively with malted grain.

 

Single-grain whisky is made with barley and one or more other cereal grains – this is usually wheat or corn.

 

Single-malt whisky has a popular reputation for being superior, though this is far from the case: it is simply a matter of taste. To quote Dave Broom, the grain in blended whisky is "glue that holds often flaky single malts together", while single-malt whisky is made "to achieve very distinctive flavors and nuances that exemplify a single distillery’s style."

 

Are there well-known and trustworthy ratings/critics/reviews for whiskies similar to Robert Parker for wines?

 

Whisky Magazine has a section that aggregates the notes of various critics, including Dave Broom, Jim Murray, and Michael Jackson. Master of Malt publishes its own notes, as well as a section for consumers to share their thoughts.