For some folks, whiskey is just another drink. But for others, being a whiskey lover is like having an incredible sidekick for any occasion, an unbreakable passion, and a genuine soulmate.
Getting to know your whiskey is like uncovering a treasure that’s more than just booze. It’s art. So, if you’re vibing with this level of appreciation for the exquisite world of whiskey, let’s dive into ten key terms that’ll have you in the know.
Aging, my friend, is a classic process that quite a few distilleries roll with to enrich the flavour spectrum of their whiskeys. Picture this: whiskey gets to hang out in porous wooden barrels, soaking up all those fantastic flavours. On average, about 2% of the liquid goes on a disappearing act thanks to evaporation and other natural dance moves. Once upon a time, folks thought this evaporation gift was going straight to the heavens. That’s where the term Angels’ Share comes into play.
2. Blended Whiskey
The distillation routine usually churns out a single whiskey that can stand on its own, aged or not. But blending is where the magic really happens. Distilleries mix and match different whiskeys, flavors, colors, or other spirits to create something entirely new.
Folks in the blending game, those legends, carefully select the right spirits and whip them up in big batches, creating a final masterpiece. Some reckon blended whiskey ain’t quite on par with the pure single malt variety. But blending is a fine art, demanding an intricate understanding of flavours, boundless creativity, and downright love for whiskey. That’s what makes blended whiskey a downright classy choice to savour.
Ever wondered how those smoky flavours land in some whiskeys? Well, it’s all about those barrels getting a bit toasty during aging. The charring levels, depending on time, come in as Level 1 – 15 seconds, Level 2 – 30 seconds, Level 3 – 3 seconds, and Level 4 – 55 seconds. Some daring distilleries even venture up to Level 7 for that next-level flavour explosion.
4. Chill Filtration
When whiskey gets a bit chilly, the fatty acids get a bit clingy, giving the drink a cloudy appearance. While it’s still totally drinkable, that cloudy vibe ain’t winning any beauty contests.
Chill filtration comes to the rescue, cooling down the drink and sending it through a fancy absorption filter to kick those undesirables to the curb. Lately, brands have been giving this process the flick to keep things au naturel, preserving those brilliant whiskey flavours and smooth textures.
5. Cask Strength
Cask strength or barrel proof is all about the whiskey going straight from the barrel to the bottle. This is the apex of whiskey, packing a punch with alcohol content sitting at a beefy 60 to 65% ABV, compared to the usual 40% ABV of regular whiskey.
That extensive barrel hangout – at least six years – is what brings out that intense kick and those unforgettable flavours. It might cost a bit more per sip, but trust me, it’s worth every drop for that unmatched kick and flavour profile.
Distillation , is a symphony of processes that come together to birth the ultimate whiskey. Basically, it involves heating up the liquid mash and then cooling down the initial steam mix to filter out specific elements. When it comes to whiskey, it also includes separating the alcohol from the fermented blend, allowing it to mature into the fantastic spirit we love. A distillery’s the hub where all these steps play out, conjuring up that liquid gold we adore.
Mash or Mash Bill, my friend, is the specific grain combo a distillery picks to create the base beer or distiller’s beer. The low-wash dance for crafting whiskey blends water, yeast, and malted grains in a precise ratio. And that same mash can whip up a whole array of flavours. Some old-school distilleries stick to a signature mash ratio across all their unique creations, adding a dash of individuality to their whiskeys.
8. Peated Whiskey
Peat’s a brown soil type that’s mostly found in Scotland. It’s born from moss that’s super thirsty in boggy areas. Peat’s like the secret sauce tossed into whiskey recipes, adding a distinct smoky aroma and flavor to scotch whiskey.
With peated whiskey, peat’s the fuel for toasting the grains to create malt. This process infuses those smoky flavors from the soil into the grains, which then work their magic in the final drink.
Expression’s all about jazzing up a base whiskey recipe to bring out different flavours. It’s like adjusting the barrel’s char level, the drink’s age, its proof, the barrel’s material, or even where they’re stored. These subtle changes can result in a similar drink to the original but with tweaks in-depth, flavour profile, and other nuanced aspects of the creation.
10. Cask Finish
Now, here’s a neat trick. Some distilleries love shuffling their aging whiskey between different barrels. This game is called cask finish, where the whiskeys get a new home in a second or third cask during aging. This adds a crisp and unique touch to the drink, amping up the flavour and even fast-tracking the aging process to just a few months instead of the usual years.
To wrap it all up, these are the ten essential terms that every whiskey lover should be well-acquainted with. Getting to know these terms will give you the lowdown on the quality and flavour profile of this versatile drop. So, when you’re hunting down the perfect whiskey to enjoy, you’ll know exactly what to look for.