What makes a great whisky
Depending on your individual tastes, selecting the whiskey most suitable to you can be a challenge. The best way to get to know which is your preferred whiskey is to use a comparison site like top10whiskies.co.uk.
Look out for tasting notes that describe how the whiskey tastes on the palate. For example, if you prefer a smokier flavour then a Port Charlotte 10-Year-old whisky may be to liking. This is an Islay malt and is heavily peated making a very popular Islay single malt.
- Body - a full bodied whiskey is something to look out for. A whisky with no body will taste empty and missing something.
- Richness - having a good richness is important and can balance well with the smoke and sweetness styles.
- Smoke - some whiskies are more smokey than others - smokiness is a particular trait of the Scotch whisky
- Sweetness - a sweeter whisky is something that many people prefer as it finishes the whiskey well.
Whisky or Whiskey?
The Scottish spelling is Whisky without the 'e', the Irish spell is Whiskey. American Whiskey also has an extra 'e' with the rest of the world in the main following the Scottish naming convention.
IMPORTANCE OF COMPARING WHISKEY
Single malts are usually priced higher than a blended whisky, this is not always the case but mostly this is the case.
The age of the whisky described by the term YO - years old - affects the price and the taste of the Whiskey. Older whiskeys command a higher price as they are stored in casks for a longer amount of time.
Cask Strength Whiskey can also influence the price - ABV - or Alcohol by Volume - indicates that it’s probably a cask strength Whiskey, although this is usually reflected in the name A Cask Strength whisky is typically around 50% ABV but this will vary by brand.
Should I add Water to my Single Malt?
There’s no strict rule as to how much water to add, or even to add any. It’s all down to taste, and what You prefer. Having said that, a whiskey with a lower ABV of around 40-45% requires only a splash of water. A strong cask strength whiskey circa 50% may require a pit more to release the flavours.
Using bottled water is usually a good idea if you are looking for a consistent taste that doesn't affect the tasting notes of the whiskey. Some Tap water can be too harsh and bottled water with a low mineral content, slightly chilled below room temperature can ensure it has a neutral overall taste effect.
Should I add ice to my Single Malt?
When it comes to ice this can really divide opinion. We say that you should drink your single malt the way you prefer. Remember, adding ice should enhance the flavour so if the ice is not having this effect then you might want to switch to water, or nothing at all! Again, think about the source of the ice, is it frozen tap water?
Different types of Whiskies
Whiskies come in wide types and variety's from all over the world. Highland, or Scottish Malt whiskies make up only a small part of the different styles and flavours of whisky available to buy.
- Scotch Whiskey, in general, this is made from malted barley or grain. Usually it is aged in oak casks for at least 3 years. This kind of whiskey is made in Scotland. There are five categories of scotch, single malt, blended malt, single grain, blended grain and Blended scotch whiskey. This style of whisky usually has a Smoky flavour.
- Irish Whiskey is made entirely in the Republic of Ireland. It takes 3 years to age in a wooden cask and is made from fermented grain mash or sometimes malter cereals. Compared to scotch, Irish whiskey has a distinctly smoother finish.
- Japanese Whisky is as the name suggests made in Japan. This style of Whiskey uses a peated bark or double malted style and is also aged in wooden casks. Compared to other whiskies it is more Smokey and drier and is also available is single malts or blends.