Pattaya Daily News

26 June 2010 :: 15:06:04 pm 27483

The Wonderful World of Whiskey

The first thing one should know when discussing whiskey is that there are two correct spellings. The Irish and Americans spell whiskey with and ‘E’ as in whiskey where as the Scottish and the Canadians spell it without the ‘E’. This shows just how complicated the world of whiskey is with the differences in taste and production. It is believed the Irish were the first to produce whiskey, but the Scotts have laid claim to being the first producers of this fine beverage. The Irish gave whiskey the name ‘uisgebeatha’ meaning ‘water of life’ which later became ‘whiskbae’ then ‘whiskie’, finally becoming ‘whiskey’.
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The Scotts, also being distillers of this highly respected liquor, adopted the original name given by the Irish. The word went through a series of pronunciations until ‘whiskey without the ‘E’ became the favored decision. Whiskey is made in the same way by the Scottish and the Irish except for the malting and distillation process. The Scotts roast the malted barley over peat fires to dry out which results in the grain soaking up the peat flavor. With the Irish, they dry out the malted barley in closed ovens so it is never exposed to the smoke. The process of mashing and fermentation is the same for both the Irish and the Scotts. The Irish distill their whiskey three times, which results in a crystal clear and exceptionally smooth end product, whereas the Scottish distilled their product only twice, resulting in a more flavored spirit.

American whiskey is regulated depending on the definition of the product. Bourbon has to be made from fermented mash not less than 51% corn, rye, wheat, malted barley or malted rye grain and stored in new oak barrels and cannot be distilled at a proof exceeding 160. The Canadian government states that the whiskey must be aged for at least three years and allows the expertise of the distiller to define the characteristics of the final product which then has no limits on distillation proof.

Canada requires all whiskey that has aged for less than four years to be listed on the label, most of their whiskey is generally over six years old and blended.  The term blended meaning the finally product is made from a variety of distilled products such as corn, barley, wheat, or rye distillates that have aged in selected used or new oak barrels.  Sometimes, the Canadian producers would ferment all the grains together, pre blending and aging it as a whole, while others fermented each grain separately, blending the final product from the mixture of spirits. Most of their spirits are distilled twice.

The above article is only a superficial look into the world of whiskey with many regional characteristics of the all the counties. It would take a lifetime to explore the world of whiskey and although it would need a professional to do so, it would be a worthwhile attempt.

Sarah Goldman

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