10-12: Scotch is Getting Younger. The notion that all scotch must be at least 12 years to be enjoyed is a common understanding among scotch drinkers everywhere. However, one company is out to prove them wrong. This scotch is just two years shy of the twelve year mark, but is growing in popularity.
Enter Glenkinchie; this ten year old malt is 86 proof and a very pale gold in color. It has a reminiscent fragrance of peat and a grassy meadow that ends rather sweet. Its body is light to medium, it is considered to be well-rounded lowland malt. In the end it stays dry, and carries a hint if ginger.
Originally formed in 1837 by a farmer, this malt clearly has some history. The original owner of the distillery sold it to another farmer who used the distillery as a cattle shed and sawmill. This property was again sold in 1880 and returned back to its natural intention to make fine malt just in time for the whiskey boom in the 1890’s. This single malt will be enjoyed by the new and revered by the old single malt enthusiasts. 190
12 Years of Fine Scotch Twelve: Is this indeed the magic number when it comes to fine scotch? In a matter of terms the answer is yes. When trying to decide on a scotch it would be best to look for that magical number, as it will indicate to you that at least it has grown into full body. There are quite a few bottles out there that have aged longer, yet obtaining these gems can prove to be tricky. An old bottle of scotch is a real treasure. Scotch, at least fine scotch, is meant to roll off the back of your tongue, and give you a warm and subtle punch in the tummy. Younger scotch, has not been given a chance to build a personality, hence it is not as smooth. It seems to be agreed that twelve years or longer is the magic number when it comes to the age of perfection for fine scotch. It may come in many different fashions and labels yet the song remains the same; good scotch has been brewing for awhile. 180
A Bottle of Their Own The majority of fine scotch distillers sell casks of their product as a whole for blending purposes as well as to private buyers. Usually the distiller name will be placed on a blended product however not the logo. This is an indication that the product is indeed blended and not single malt. Most independent bottling companies will bottle products from single casks and may or may not be from the original bottling source. At this time many renowned distillers are trying to end the open market of bottling operations as it is infringing on their overall sales. Some malt companies will incorporate more than one batch of their scotch into the cask selling to ensure the independent bottlers from selling it as a single malt product. Many independent bottlers will use merely a geographical region or an alias of the distiller, as to avoid any legal repercussions. This method of legal sneakiness is known as “bastard bottling”. Either way the society of scotch malt whiskey can still track the product by the distiller number. 179
A Manly Drink When you think of a man’s drink, what comes to mind? Baileys? Vodka? To many, scotch seems to be the drink of choice for grown men and seemingly this choice has been made for many, many years. There is most probably not a spirit, more endeared by men than scotch. Scotch is made here in America, but the finest scotch is made in the Isles of Scotland. Scotch from Islay Scotland, can cost you a pretty penny. The scotch mentioned here from Scotland is from the Bruichladdich distillery in Islay Scotland, which is at the most southern of all Hebridian islands. The scotch made there is so rare that it can only be purchased at the distillery. Here in America, scotch is not so hard to come by. A bottle of Wild Turkey costs, on average, about $22.00. Whereas a high end whiskey can cost up to $50.00 a bottlepare that to a fine scotch from is isles at around $120.00 per bottle and you will see the difference isn’t so much in the bottle, but in the spirit itself. 184
A Timeless Secret It is said that the art of distilling was discovered somewhere in Asia in approximately 800 B. C. The assumption was that this technique was merely used to make perfumes, however this has been refuted. The method by which the processes found its way to the British Isles is uncertain; however we do know that the Moors brought the art of distilling to Europe. It is believed that the art was then refined in monasteries throughout central Europe. Apparently the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, carried this trade into the monasteries in 432 AD on a Christian mission. Regardless, the Celts did attain the secret eventually and made their water of life that in Gaelic is pronounced “Uisge Beatha”. This simple yet not well-known name is how the scotch whiskey came to be, as Uisge means whiskey. The millstone year for whiskey in history would have to be 1494 as a Sir Friar John Cor of Scotland ordered eight bolls of malt. It was reportedly to be used for aqua vitae which is the first accountable proof of production of whiskey in Scotland. The skill of distilling soon left the monasteries for the farms where just about everyone was making whiskey up until about 1820 this is when the government decided they were going to shut down personal and private distilleries making them illegal. The rough and sometimes brutal taste differs greatly from today. It was not until the eighteenth century that it was discovered that with aging came a mellower brew. The findings of the aging process was practically tripped upon when an old cask long forgotten was found full of the good stuff. The uniting of the two parliaments one from England and one from Scotland in the year 1707 is what drew into effect the Union Act. Realizing that it would pay off for both sides, they came up with an unheard of plan for making the malt. By the year 1725 the English malt tax was forged however not without bloodshed. At this time every second bottle of malt distilled in Scotland was of the illegal kind due to roving excise men, illicit distilleries, and the fashion of smuggling. In 1820’s much trouble arose in the form of crime and tough taxing policies which eventually became completely unmanageable. To solve the problem, the government ordered the Excise Act which allowed the government to track which distilleries were legal and those which were not by using labels. Whisky started out as a product for the British market in the 1820s, but today it has become a drink that is appreciated and loved around the world. Much of this incredible development is the result of the introduction of blended whisky. Even today approximately 90 percent of all whisky that is produced in Scotland is used in blended whisky. However the interest of single malt whisky has increased in recent years and this development is likely to continue. 492
Bourbon In The Making It is a well-rounded argument that the Scottish has the market sewn up as far as making the best product on the planet; however there are a few studs in other stables worth a mention. Bourbon has long been associated with Kentucky and for good reason as it is the state where this craft was first developed. Elijah Craig a Baptist minister in the late 18th century in Georgetown Kentucky unveiled to farmers and townsfolk alike the first Bourbon whiskey where the trend just took off. It is said that even the father of the great Abraham Lincoln got into the action. European settlers brought this trade secret with them to North America and in turn shared it with their new neighbors. Giving way to a boom in production. 1791 was the timeframe for the whiskey rebellion that took place in Pennsylvania where the government elected to impose tax on whiskey and whiskey sales. This did not sit well with distillers so they made their way to the Kentucky Mountains to avoid the collectors of said tax. Eighty percent of all Bourbon today is distilled in the state of Kentucky. A royal family of French decent carried the name that now brandishes the bottles of this Kentucky gold. The name was introduced in 1758. The attempt of American independence from British rule saw the French giving support so as the independence grew new land developments in America were named in French as tribute. In the year 1785, Kentucky was known as the Kentucky district of Virginia and not a separate state. Through some of the river ports in Kentucky the whiskies were shipped down the Ohio River to New Orleans. Northeastern Bourbon county and Limestone county combined in 1789 to forge Mason county Virginia. Although Bourbon is less restricted than Scotch, there are some regulations in place today. State regulation on Bourbon distilling requires the brew to be made from 51% corn; however barley wheat and rye may be used for blending purposes. It must be between 80-160% proof. The soft texture and sweet taste come from the corn itself. After it is distilled in a continual still, it is then filled to casks made of oak for maturing for a much regulated minimum of no less than two years. These regulations make Bourbon what it is today, a very popular whiskey among all who drink. 400
Dispelling A Blue Rumor It has been rumored that the Johnny Walker Blue Label blended whiskey was about to be halted for reasons unknown. This rumor is indeed just that nothing more than a rumor. Here you will find some background on this fine product in the event you wish to try it someday. Although lately the market place is seemingly chomping at the bit to get a hold of some of this Blue label Johnny Walker ultra premium fine blended whiskey, it has managed to remain elusive to most sippers of fine spirits. This blend was to be made to celebrate Sir John Walker’s existence of 200 years. A blending of young grains and malts make this drink a little mellower. Like some of the older whiskies, this blend was to be reminiscent of the blends back in the earlier 19th century. The blue label product does not show an aging date on the label; however this is by no means an indication of poor quality. In fact, it is quite the contrary. It has actually been said that there are approximately 16-18 different aged whiskies and single malt blends in one bottle of Johnny Walker blue label. No one really knows the youngest of these. The answer to the question of whether Blue Label is going to be discontinued, is simply, no. They have no intention on discontinuing the blue label Johnny Walker. It may have not have had the publicity that the other two colors have enjoyed but do not mistake this color for a slouch. This blend is by all means the Rolls Royce of the current Walker line up at a pretty $200 a bottle. Single malts can indeed sell out and replenishment of stock is not a short order since the time it takes to mature is lengthy. However wonderful blends such as the blue label can always be adjusted according to available stock. The over abundance of malt stock will keep the blenders busy for quite some time. Stock will not just deplete overnight. It is a continual cycle where as young and budding malts become old and wise to be replaced with new fillings. There is no doubt that rare fine scotch will be a continual operation in Scotland and where this comes into play is the continual stock received by the Johnny Walker name. This wonderfully blended product is not under any circumstances going anywhere.. 404
Global whiskeys Scotland is not the only country that can put out a quality scotch product. Many countries have ventured into the spirits domain. Canada is one of them. The Canadian whiskeys are starting to shine with products that are crisp and bold to the taste buds. Following strict compliance with Canadian regulations these spirits are distilled and bottled no less than two years before consumption. Usually the bottling is done no sooner than six years and many are much longer than that now. They are not noted as straight whiskies as they are blended. They are bold and lightly flavored yet manage to keep a very distinctive body and character. The Canadian government carries out rigid control of the Excise Tax and labeling. There have been no stipulations in place for the grain formulas or distilling processes. Nor have the maturing factors or time frames been ruled or governed. They have left it up to the producers of this product to determine what markets abroad and at home desire from their product. It has been shown that this was a wise decision as the Canadian makers seem to be holding strong in all markets and fields. Not unlike the brands found in the United States the distillery function is pretty much a standard deal with the exception of the use of cereal grains and some trade secrets. Since Canadian distillers are not faced with artificial proof restriction in their distillation procedures, they are able to operate continuous distillation systems under conditions that are optimum for the separation and selection of desirable congeners. The relationship between beverage spirits and the congeners is in no way marred while in the fermentation mash solution. The casks are made of white oak and are rated in US gallons matured cooperage insures compatibility of the fine whiskies. The delicate flavor and per portions that the maturing batches cooperage is a fine trade secret. It was spelled out with Sir Joseph Seagram. He decided in 1911 that an appropriate whiskey should be made for the wedding of his son. This blend became known as Seagram’s V. O or very own whiskey as it is known in those parts. Only pedigree grains and the finest of spring water were and still are used today to create this wonderful and bold whiskey. The master blender has at his disposal over 2,000 choice and premium flavored bases that he can choose from for his secret and delightful blends. 409
Mixed Drinks Upsetting for Distillers Although some Scots are softening up in regards to their traditional dram, we cannot say all of them are. Some are indeed abusively screaming and kicking, with regard to how their fine brew is handled. The idea of mixing a fine scotch in a fancy drink at the bar seems preposterous. This notion is dubbed an act of kindness, yet not too kind to the distillers that have toiled to bring us such a wonderful product. Scotch is a wonderful brew that hit the mainstream of the U. S. in the early 1990’s. Several have considered this type of drink as a personality definer, causing it to grow quickly in popularity. Through Scotch as a drink was also a growing interest in it as a single malt treat. However, there are many different variations that have hit the market in order to please every palette. It has been said that scotch is a nasty old bugger who is drank alone or with one or two close friends and not in the spirit of socializing. However the distillers, and aficionados alike tend to disagree. They feel that the time spent with friends and family, should indeed include the sipping of a fine scotch, for pleasure and conversation alike. 211
Old Drink, Young Crowd Why is it that scotch always seem to be left alone in the bar scene? It is understandable that most people find scotch to harsh to drink while dancing the night away but could it not be introduced in some mild cocktails? Generally it is assumed that the sweeter drinks tend to give you the staying power on the dance floor as it is usually loaded with sugar. Sugar is not an ingredient that one would associate with scotch and many of the clubbers will shy away from the so called old mans drink. Yet they really do not understand the potential that scotch in small doses in sweet drinks can have. It can liven up the party in a relatively short amount of time. Of course there are the few drinks out there that may inspire a look into by the up and coming yuppies that are trying to mature. One of these mild scotch drinks is the Rusty Nail. This wonderful drink contains 1 Ѕ oz of scotch Ѕ oz of Drambuie And a twist of peel from a lemon This drink forgoes the common rule of no ice with your scotch, as the glass should be filled almost to the brim with cubes. Then the Drambuie and scotch are poured in together stirred vigorously and garnished with the peel. This makes a delightful small mixed drink that is much easier on the throat as well as the stomach that straight scotch. Another popular drink is the whiskey sour. This drink is open to enjoyment by all classes and generations. This drink contains 2 oz of blended whiskey, the juice of half a lemon, Ѕ tsp of powdered sugar, one cherry and half slice of lemon. Again this drink is easy to make. Shake the blended whiskey, the powdered sugar and the lemon juice with ice then strain into a whiskey sour glass. Lastly, top with the cherry and garnish the drink with the lemon slice. Another great drink that the younger crowd may enjoy is the Rob Roy. This is a very simple drink that is relished by many and is very short on the prep time so you can be back on the dance floor in no time flat. This drink contains 1 Ѕ oz of scotch whiskey and ѕ oz sweet vermouth. You merely stir contents with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. 403
Production of scotch The production of Scotch whisky takes time, a lot of time. It is a tedious process that can take years. However when it is done correctly, the product is one worth waiting for. Barley is placed in deep tanks of water for approximately three days. As the moisture increases it promotes the germination process. After the germination process, the barley is then moved to the malting segment of the distillery where it will go into drums sometimes known as the malting floor. The entire purpose of the germination process is to convert the starch in the grains into fermentable sugars. This will feed the yeast in the fermentation stage. Turning the barley frequently ensures the temperature will remain consistent. Sheils, another name for a wooden shovel, are used to turn the grains, on a traditional malting floor. The grains will die if the temperature reaches above 22 degrees, and will the stop the entire process as the starch will not be converted to sugar. The grain is then kilned as to halt the continuation of sugar consumption the kiln will dry up any moister. Generally a kiln is a building standing two stories in height with the top perforated to allow all heat to leave. The lower floor contains peat bricks that are heated. During this process the grain is dried and takes on that peat like reek. The pagoda style roof on a distillery is the most noticeable characteristic. The malt must not be heated above 70 degrees or it will surely be damaged and unusable. Most of the distilleries in this day and age buy all their malt from a centralized malting company. However there are still a select few that remain traditional and do it all themselves. The grain is milled into grist and combined with water in mash tubs to be heated to sixty degrees. During the mashing period the water is changed at least four times to remove sediment. The bi-product of this mashing is called wort. The wort must be cooled prior to mixing with yeast in what is called a wash back. This large container is never filled to the top as the wort froths a lot due to carbon dioxide. After two or three days all the yeast is killed by the alcohol. The end product of this cycle is called wash. It contains an alcohol percent of five to 8 percent. The stills in which the wash is placed are made of copper and are regulated to a certain shape allowing for proper distillation to occur. The still method is usually ran twice yet some companies do three or more. After all this is complete the brew is then placed in casks made of usually oak, for a period of eight to twelve years minimum. 467
Scotch a Mature Blend It is said that you can tell the quality of scotch by its age, this is in every count of the word maturity. Law states that all blends must indeed “mature” for a minimum of three years, however for a great many years, these blends have been idling for approximately eight years. The distillers have found the longer it sits and matures, the better the product. As this scotch sits in its casks, it is constantly changing. The alcohol level drops for every year that it sits in its cask, and what is know as Angel’s share is developed, where the alcohol is absorbed into the oak casks pours. The casks that we speak of are of the used variety, due to the fact that new casks would change the taste of the scotch dramatically, hence altering its character. A law in the US states that for the production of Bourbon, or Tennessee whiskey, only new casks are to be used. The use of these new casks introduces a vanilla taste into the blend. There are some blends as old as 30 years or more, happy hunting for that elusive and pricey item. 199
Scotch: Popular Today, Popular Tomorrow. In today’s world of clubs and young drinkers, fine Scotch often falls by the wayside. A much more sophisticated drink, Scotch is popular with older, more mature drinkers. Will this classic favorite eventually die out to all the pretty drinks served up in coconut shells with pretty pink umbrellas?
The answer is probably not. Although Scotch on the rocks, is getting to be more and more unpopular among the bar drinkers, there are mixed drinks that feature fine Scotch with fun names that appeal to the younger crowd. Drinks like the rusty nail which features Scotch and Drambuie or the Scotch happy sour which features Scotch and cherry flavored brandy are fun drinks that the twenty-something’s love to order. It is the unique taste of fine Scotch that sets it apart from the fad drinks that are all the rage today. There are a multitude of these kinds of mixed drinks, but to the true connoisseurs of fine whiskey, a cold scotch on the rocks is the only way to enjoy a fine scotch. Word count 177
Scotch Whisky to America As new Irish and Scottish immigrants tried to settle on the American continent they brought with them the distilling methods of scotch whiskey. Finding the new raw materials different that what they were accustomed to, they lead the way for an evolution of new scotch now known merely as whiskey. Today if you can find a similarity between Irish and Scottish whiskey, and its now American cousin you would be further ahead than the experts and connoisseurs. The stronger, fuller and sweeter taste found in the American whiskey if a result of the lack of smoke in the drying process of grains and/or corns. The six different categories that American whiskey is divided into is a direct result of the different aging times and adjusted amounts of grains used in each batch of whiskey. The six different American brews are as follows: * Bourbon * Tennessee * Rye * Wheat * Corn * Blended whiskey Bourbon Bourbon Is believed to be produced solely in Kentucky, which is a myth it has been produced in many states. Stipulations for bourbon are very simple. It must be made in the United States, should only be made from fifty-one percent corn, and can only be stored in charred oak barrels for a term no shorter than two years. The spirit in its raw form may not exceed eighty percent alcohol by volume. Tennessee There are a few differences between Tennessee and Bourbon. They are very closely related. Tennessee must always be filtered through sugar maple charcoal, and can only be produced in the state of Tennessee, hence its name. Currently there are only two brands of Tennessee whiskey available; George Dickel and Jack Daniels. Rye and Wheat whiskey Generally rye whiskey is blended with other products to create other types of whiskeys. Only a very small portion of this whiskey is actually bottled. It must be made of at least fifty-one percent rye in order to be deemed rye whiskey. The distilling and storing conditions meet the same requirements as in Bourbon. Mostly made in the states of Indiana and Kentucky it is quite uncommon it has a slightly bitter and more powerful taste. Corn Due to the overwhelming surplus of corn, this was an obvious choice and is the predecessor of Bourbon. As assumed corn is the main ingredient with about eighty percent. The difference between corn and Bourbon is that corn does not have to be stored in wood. If it is to be aged it must be done in previous Bourbon barrels or barrels that have been uncharred Blended American Whiskey You should not be confused by the differences in Scottish whiskey and American blended whiskey. American whiskey only contains approximately twenty percent of rye and bourbon whiskey, a mass product industrial spirit, makes up the other eighty percent. This makes the product very cheap and much lighter than it’s American cousins. 486
Scotch Whisky: On top of the world. In terms of export, Scotch whisky amasses approximately 90% of all export sales combined in England and is a principle export commodity. This income is in great part foreign currency. This trend has been followed since the turn of the 19-century as the value of overseas marketing was discovered. Between 15-20% of all scotch whisky consumed in Scotland is first purchased in Britain. Although the reason for this is unknown, they do not dwell on it since their Scotch seems to be more popular in other countries.
This is proven by the fact that scotch whisky is within the top five export earners and makes a considerable profit while making very large contributions to Britain’s foreign exchange. Approximately 200 markets are in the exchange for Scotch whisky with the European Union being in the forefront vying for top spot with the United States, Japan and other Asian markets following suit. The European Union is accountable for at least 50% of all Scotch whisky sales with the other countries rounding up another 40% or so. A nine-year sales projection is in reserve of scotch stock maturing or already matured. In 1996 the stock of matured scotch was sitting at 2,741 million liters up a tenfold from 1945 at 247 million liters. The stock was higher in 1939 at 374 million liters. Obviously the Scotch whiskey market is predicted to grow based on the amount of maturing stock. It is a difficult trade dealing in stocks with a scotch manufacturer as they sit and wait on maturing product, they cannot accurately gather information on what the market years down the road will be for their product. This is a commercial problem. The most significant undertaking is the capital investment of maturing stock. There is a very small portion of fine scotch that actually makes it out of Scotland and into other countries. Matured whiskies as well as fresh fillings are an enticing profit grabber; however the time it takes for this product to turn over and give way to said profit makes this a risky endeavor. It is very hard to determine whether or not the products value will hold in the future. In closing the value of these company’s finely distilled products is not likely to lose appeal any time soon, although one never knows what the future will bring. For Scotch lovers, another drink is always in their futures. 406