The World of Whiskey:
George Bernard Shaw once said in one of his plays, “Whiskey is liquid sunshine.”
From Scotland to Japan, from America to Ireland, whiskey is popular in every country of the world. One of the most consumed alcoholic beverage whiskey or whisky is made from different types of grains. It is made through the process of distillation. The basic process of distillation remains common everywhere. However, the variety of malt and the type of cask used in the aging process differs.
Although all whiskeys are produced in a similar manner, the distillation process and the grains vary in every country. The origin of whiskey is though debatable, Scotland shows a written record of producing whiskey in the year 1492. One of the most famous variety is scotch whiskey. Scotch whiskey was originated in Scotland and it can only be made in Scotland. The aging process for scotch whiskey is minimum three years in oak barrels.
The other types of whiskeys are Bourbon, Rye, and Tennessee. Bourbon whiskey is made of corn. It undergoes minimum two years of aging and is charred in white oak barrels. After the completion of the aging process, it is filtered and diluted with water. It is little sweet in taste and is made in America. The next variety is the Rye whiskey, which is made from 51% rye. Canadian whiskey is also known as Rye whiskey. Tennessee whiskey is a straight whiskey. One of the most selling American whiskey brand Jack Daniels is also Tennessee whiskey.
Another category of whiskey is the Irish whiskey. As the name suggests, it was originated in Ireland. The aging process for Irish whiskey is minimum three years. The use of Coffey stills or column stills were used introduced traditionally to produce Irish whiskey. On the other hand, Japanese whiskeys are produced almost in the similar process like that of Scotch whiskeys.
Types of Malts
The variety of malt varies from region to region depending upon the availability of grains in that particular geographical area.
Malt Whiskey is made up of malted barley grain while the grain whiskey is made up of grains other than barley.
Corn, wheat, rye are the types of grains used other than barleys in many types of grain whiskies. Bourbon whiskey is primarily made of maize. Rye and maize are used in Tennessee whiskey. Rye is used as the primary grain in Canadian and American whiskies.
Single malt whiskey is made from a mash of a single type of grain. It is prepared in a single distillery. Blended malt is made in different distilleries from a single malt grain while the blended whiskey is made up of grain and malt both. Single cask whiskey, as the name suggests, is made in a single barrel with a single grain malt.
The manufacturing process of whisky goes through several steps. The traditional way of making whiskey from barley is done by malting of the grain involves soaking of the grain in the water on the malting floors for several days. After drying, the malt is ground to form the mash and the mash is left for fermentation.
Distillation is the primary step to make whiskey. The process of distillation helps in removing the impurities from the fermented liquid and is generally done in copper stills. Pot stills are used to make Irish and Scotch malt whiskies and are found in different shapes and sizes depending on the quantity.
One of the most important steps in the making of whiskey is the aging process. A cask or a barrel is used for this process. The aging of whiskey is dependent on two factors; the type of cask and the time. The amount of time the whiskey has been left in the cask and the material of the cask changes the chemical composition of whiskey. The maturation of whiskey in a barrel takes place for ten to twenty years.
Lastly, the packaging of whiskey is done in glass bottles and is ready to be sold in the market. The strength of whiskey is measured in ABV or Alcohol by Volume. Most of the whiskies in the market are sold at 40% ABV.
Most Expensive Varieties
In January 2018, a 50 years old Japanese whiskey was sold at HK$299,000 at an auction in Hong Kong. The Macallan in Lalique is more than sixty years old whiskey and is one of the most expensive whiskeys in the world it costs around £20,000. The fifty years old Dalmore costs around £70,000.
The Johnie Walker Blue Lable whiskeys are forty to seventy-five years old and cost around £20,000. Mortlach is considered to be one of the oldest whiskeys in the world and is priced around £22,500.
Leading Producing Countries of Whiskey in the World
From America to Australia, from Ireland to Finland, whiskey is produced in different varieties across the globe. Scotland and USA are the world’s leading whiskey producing country. Ireland produces whiskey at a very large scale. Japan, on the other hand, has a long history of whiskey production.
Canada largely produces Rye whiskey and is the biggest exporter of Rye whiskey in the world. Though Australia does not have a history of producing whiskey, it has now become one of the top ten whiskey producing countries in the world. Sweden, Taiwan, and Germany have also grown their whiskey production in the past years. More than twenty countries in the world produce whiskey.
Leading Consuming Countries of Whiskey in the World
USA, France, Singapore, Germany, Spain, Japan, and India are among the leading consuming countries of whiskey in the world. The French prefer drinking Scotch whiskey and are one of the largest Scotch whiskey consumers in the world. Ireland and Austria also have a high consumption of whiskey. India is one of the largest consumers of whiskey, with its local production of whiskey.
Hence, we can see that whiskey is popular throughout the world and will remain one of the favorite alcoholic beverages. One must know the difference between the varieties of whiskeys available in the market.
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