For some, whiskey is just another drink. But for others, it is an extraordinary companion for every situation, an irrevocable passion, and one true love.
To know your whiskey is to learn about a drink that is more than just alcohol. It is art. Well, if you relate to these feelings about this exquisite drink, then explore with me ten critical terms about whiskey you should know.
1. Angels Share
Aging is a typical process carried out by several distilleries to deepen the flavor palette of the whiskeys, such as weller antique. The aging process occurs with whiskey placed in porous wooden barrels that add a flavor component to the drink. On average, a loss of about 2% of the storage volume occurs due to evaporation and other natural processes. Traditionally this share of evaporated drink was believed to have gone to the heavens, and thus the term Angel`s Share came to play.
2. Blended Whiskey
The distillation process typically creates a single whiskey that is usable directly with or without aging. Blending is an overall process performed by distilleries where they produce a new variety by combining or mixing multiple whiskeys, flavorings, colorings, or other spirits.
The specialized blenders or blending team is responsible for selecting the right spirits and combining them in large batches to create the final product. Blended whiskeys are thought to be inferior to pure single whiskey. But the process of blending requires intricate knowledge of the flavor palette, extraordinary creativity, and passion for whiskey, making blended whiskey quite an exquisite choice to relish.
The smokey flavors imparted to some whiskeys occur from the use of partially burnt wood barrels for aging. Based on the amount of time, the char level can be categorized as Level 1 – 15 seconds, Level 2 – 30 seconds, Level 3 – 3 seconds, and Level 4 – 55 seconds. Charring levels as high as Level 7 have been beneficial to create exquisite flavors in whiskeys.
4. Chill Filtration
Chilling whiskey leads to the congealing of fatty acids that add a cloudy appearance. Although the drink is still perfectly edible, the cloudy part may not be aesthetically appealing. Chill filtration eliminates the undesirable elements of whiskey that induce this cloudiness by cooling the drink and feeding it through a fine absorption filter. Brands have recently begun to avoid this process to preserve the natural composition that influences whiskey’s brilliant flavors and texture.
5. Cask Strength
Cask strength or barrel proof refers to varieties bottled straight from the barrel. It is the epitome of whiskey, with a high alcohol concentration of about 60 to 65 % ABV compared to traditional whiskey with only 40 % ABV. The intense aging of the drink in barrels that lasts at least six years delivers this exquisite alcohol intensity. It is more expensive per ounce but has unparalleled kick and flavors to it.
Distillation refers to a combination of several processes that creates the end whiskey. Broadly, it involves heating and cooling the initial liquid mixture to filter certain constituents. Specific to whiskey, the method also includes separating the alcohol from the fermented mixture, which then matures to produce the final spirit. A distillery is a facility where these steps can take place, leading to the production of fine whiskey.
Mash or Mash Bill refers to the specific ratio and selection of grains utilized by a distillery to create the base beer or distillers beer. The low wash process used for creating whiskey combines water, yeast, and malted grains in the defined ratio to craft the drink. The same mash can help make a wide variety of offerings. Some old distilleries use a signature ratio for all their different creations, adding a unique touch to their whiskeys.
8. Peated Whiskey
Peat is a brown soil type of deposit predominantly found in Scotland. The deposit occurs due to a high absorbent moss that initially emerged in the boggy regions. It is a dried compost pile commonly included in whiskey recipes. It is helpful to add a distinct smoky aroma and flavor to the scotch whiskey. A peated whiskey uses peat as fuel for roasting the grains to make malt. The process embeds the smoky flavors of the deposit into the grains that then transfer to the drink.
The expression refers to the variations created on a given base whiskey recipe that can alter the flavor palette. The variations induced could refer to a change in the char of the barrel, age of the drink, proof, cooperage, or barrel storage. These minor alterations can create a very similar drink to the original recipe but with changes in the depth, flavor composition, or certain other intricate aspects of the creation.
10. Cask Finish
Some distilleries prefer to transfer the aging whiskey between different barrels. The process is known as cask finish, where whiskeys are placed in a second or a third cask while aging. It adds a crisp and unique finish to the drink. It can also make it more flavorful and speed up the maturation to a few months instead of waiting several years.
These are the ten most essential terms every whiskey lover should familiarise. The terms enable you to know more about the quality and palette of this versatile drink. It will help you identify the best selections of whiskey to relish anytime, anywhere.