International Whisk(e)y Day

Now, if you’ve ever been near a social media site, two things will likely have happened. Firstly, your internet soul was probably harvested by some pompous Etonian and a child with pink hair. Once they had it, they set some Ukrainian girls round your house who convinced you never to rule a small village in Sri Lanka. We know, you would’ve been like a young Chandrika Kumaratunga, those posh gits! Secondly, you probably noticed there’s quite a lot of days in celebration of stuff on social media. Most are stupid; like ‘World Brazil Nut Day’; it’s not even a real nut, nor is it exclusively from Brazil, we should just call it ‘South American Devious Seed Day!’ Yet, there is one day, that is more powerfully festive than Christmas, Easter and ‘South American Devious Seed Day’ combined; we are of course talking about ‘International Whisky Day’. This morning people up and down the country leant out of their respective windows to ask of their respective paper boys, “what’s today my fine fellow?” To which they received the reply, “Today? Why, it’s International Whisky Day!” In honour of this most auspicious occasion we thought we’d play the role of the ghost of International Whisky Past, Present & Future…

What is Single Malt Scotch Whisky?

It’s pretty straight forward actually; it must be made from 100% malted barley and come from a single distillery. That way, you get a whisky that’s truly expressive of that distillery and the place it hails from. This applies to whisky produced across Scotland, be it off the coast like Talisker or right down south like Glenkinchie. They’ll tell you a story those single malts… you just need a word or two of Gaelic.

What is Bourbon?

(Don’t say chocolate biscuit, don’t say chocolate biscuit.) It’s a brown custard cream (Damn it!) The esteemed scion of Bourbon County, Kentucky - now made across the whole of the USA - is a grain whiskey that must consist of at least 51% corn. Bourbon’s flavour is defined by the maturation of the spirit; it must be aged in charred new oak barrels for a minimum of two years, imparting body, vanilla sweetness and whatever other qualities are sought by the distiller, be they the spice-and-honey complexity of Evan Williams, or the voluptuously spicy yet sweetness of Maker’s Mark Bourbon.

What are Japanese Whiskies Like?

Whisky production in Japan began around 1870, but the first commercial production was in 1924 upon the opening of the country's first distillery, Yamazaki Perhaps the most renowned name in Japanese Whisky is Masataka Taketsuru. Taketsuru married a Scottish woman and while in Scotland, Taketsuru underwent a five-day crash course in distillation at Longmorn, also studying grain distillation at Bo’ness and spending five months at Hazelburn in Campbeltown. He took his knowledge back to Japan to help Shinjiro Torii establish the countries first distillery, Yamazaki. In 1934 he established his own distillery Dainipponkaju, which would later change its name to Nikka. Typically, Japanese whiskies are quite similar in style to Scotch, most malted barley and peat is shipped from the UK. Perhaps the most distinctive factor in Japanese whisky production is the use of ‘clear wort’ that typically gives the whiskies a crisp, clean and fruiter flavours opposed to cereal characters classic in Scotch.

How are Irish Whiskies Different?

Firstly, they are spelt ‘Whiskey’ in Ireland not ‘Whisky’ because everyone felt understanding the world of spirits was far too easy without uniform spelling. Most consider Ireland the original home of whiskey with some records dating Irish distillation back to the 13th Century.  However, a long period of decline from the late 19th Century has seen Irish Whiskey over taken by many other whisky producing regions. For many decades Irish Whiskey production was dominated by two distilleries, however we’re pleased to say there’s a bit of a resurgence on. In the last few years new craft distilleries have been popping up like Teeling in Dublin and Glendalough that are producing truly astonishing small batch whiskies. Although there are a broad range of styles, Irish Whiskey is typically defined by being triple distilled and with minimal use of peat. This creates whiskies that are delicate, light-bodied and aromatic with notes of corn husk, dried citrus fruit and caramel.