Scotland and their Unique Whisky, Scotch

Just what is Scotch Whisky? Under UK law, Scotch is defined by “The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009”. The rules define how it must be manufactured and labeled. If you’re drinking Scotch you can be certain that the following conditions were met:

1. Produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (which only whole grains of other cereals can be added)

2. Has been distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8% so that the distillate posseses an aroma and taste derived from the raw materials

3. Wholly matured in an excise warehouse in Scotland in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 liters for minimum of three years

4. Retains the color, aroma, taste of the raw materials

5. Is without added substances, other than water and plain caramel colouring

6. Has a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 40% at bottling

Why is Scotch so unique? Most Scotch offers a smoky flavor also known as peatiness. This flavor is generated when the malted barley is dried in kilns that are being heated with peat. Peat, aka turf, is an accumulation of partly decayed vegetation including grasses, fungi, trees, insects as well as the occasional animal. The layers of material cannot decompose fully because of the lack of oxygen and high pH. Peat can also be flammable when it is wet or dry. Because of the plethora of peat in Scotland this material was used to heat, cook and also power the kilns to dry the malted barley.

Types of Scotch Whisky – There are two types of Scotch whisky that can be bottled as is or blended. The two styles are: Single malt Scotch: Single malt Scotch whisky is prepared with water and malted barley at a single distillery. Single grain Scotch whisky: Single grain Scotch whisky is produced from water and malted barley but can also include grains of other malted or unmalted cereals. It also must be distilled at a single distillery. It is important to note that the word ‘Single’ does not refer to what goes into the Scotch but instead that it must be produced at a ‘Single’ distillery.

Scotch Whisky Blends – Using single malt or single grain whisky, producers can create a variety of blends. There are 3 types of blends that are defined in “The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009.”

1. Blended malt Scotch whisky: Blend of more than one single malt Scotch whiskies from different distilleries.

2. Blended grain Scotch whisky: Blend of two or more single grain Scotch whiskies from different distilleries.

3. Blended Scotch whisky: means a blend of one or more single malt Scotch whiskies with one or more single grain Scotch whiskies.

To learn much more about Scotch Whisky, download the regulations or explore the different brands of Scotch head over to Making Whiskey at Home. There you will discover more details on whiskey making, whisky recipes and resources.

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