We’re biased of course but for us, Scotch is the true, the original, King of Whiskies. “Scotch” only refers to Scottish whisky, made in Scotland and by law, at least three years old. Any younger and it can’t be called Scotch. But we’re not out of the woods yet, because there are quite a few categories of genuine Scotch whisky.
The two you’re most likely to come across are Single Malt Scotch and Blended Scotch.
A Single Malt Whisky comes from a single distillery and a single malted grain. ‘Malting’ is a process by which the grain begins to germinate in water and is then dried to halt the germination. It takes time and skill, which is why a Single Malt is typically more expensive than Grain or Blended whiskies. It may undergo maturing in several different casks to achieve a particular flavour, and must be bottled in Scotland.
Blended Scotch Whisky is called Blended because, in a refreshingly logical piece of naming, it is the result of blending any combination of Malt and Grain Whiskies. The age declared on the label refers to the youngest Whisky in the blend. The blenders art (forgive us if we seem to flatter our profession, but blending a great Scotch really is an art) is to achieve the same taste year after year.
Other countries produce Whiskeys – note the spelling; Irish and other whiskeys are spelled with an ‘e’ while Scotch is not. It is said the Scots spell it without the “e” because more vowels waste good drinking time.
Depending on whom you ask, there are between 5 and 7 different main regions where whisky is distilled. These regions produce Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Bourbon (Kentucky), Canadian Whiskey and American (Tennessee) Whiskey. The two disputed regional whiskeys are those from Japan and New Zealand.