If you’re a newcomer to the world of whiskey, worry not. We’ve got you covered.
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Let’s be honest, there’s nothing like letting your hair loose, sitting with your legs up whilst sipping on a glass of whiskey at the end of a long day. Ahhh… only the best way to unwind? Whiskey lovers will agree. That burning sensation when the very first drop of this spirit hits your throat feels almost like your soul has been set free. Well, maybe that’s being a tad too partial but whatever whiskey may mean to you – your go-to drink when you’re almost broke or perfect end to a dinner date – we all know that that one glass of whiskey is always a welcome guest.

Did you know that ‘whiskey’ comes from the Gaelic word ‘Uisge Beatha’ which means ‘water of life’? Neither did we! Before you drink to that, here’s a tidbit: You will be surprised to know that this distilled spirit is actually good for you – it is low-carb and fat-free, can lower your risk of having a stroke or developing a heart disease. As if we needed more reasons to raise a toast!

May 19 being World Whiskey Day, it is only fair to celebrate with a glass (or a bottle) of whisky. Before gulping down that beautiful dark golden liquid to drunkenness, we suggest you first read on to know everything about this spirit.

Good to Know

This distilled spirit is made from fermented grain mash which may include either corn, rye, barley or wheat. After fermentation, it is usually matured in barrels for several years and can be popped open even after 100 years. Unlike wine, whose taste is known to deteriorate after a certain period of time, whiskey lasts almost forever which means total paisa vasool.

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What’s in a name?

Whiskey or whisky? The spelling actually depends on which part of the world the whisky is from. In the United States and Ireland it’s spelt with the “e” while in Scotland, Japan and rest of the world, the “e” is left out. However, you must know that Maker's Mark and Old Forester are the only two American brands that call themselves ‘whisky’. Does this change anything, though? Nah, it’s still the same old classic whisk(e)y, loved by one and all.

The types

There are two main types of whiskey: malt and grain.

Malt whisky is made from fermented malted barley, hence the name. Coming primarily from the lands of Scotland, this whisky is distilled in pot stills. Note, whisky that’s exclusively produced in a single distillery is called Single Malt, while whisky that’s made by blending two or more single malt Scotch whiskies from different distilleries is called Blended Malt.

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Grain whisky typically sees a combination of ingredients – barley, corn, wheat and rye – and can either be distilled in a pot or column still. Single grain whisky is made at a single distillery and Blended Grain whisky is made of two or more single grain whiskies from different distilleries.

But wait, there’s more…

Bourbon

This popular American Whiskey is typically made from at least 51 percent corn and is matured in first-use charred American oak casks for a minimum of two years. Contrary to popular belief, this whiskey is not produced in Kentucky alone. You can’t simply miss out on Texas and New York, which too, are known to be blessing mankind with some of the best Bourbon. The good news is that Bourbon can be enjoyed in any manner – be it neat, diluted with water, on the rocks, or for the adventurous ones – in a cocktail. Bourbon can also be used in cooking, or be drunk while cooking. Whatever suits you best. Wink Wink. In ancient times, Bourbon was also used for medicinal purposes.

Tennessee Whiskey

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Coming straight from the lands of Tennessee, this is not that different from Bourbon, but yet not the same. The main difference being that Tennessee Whisky is charcoal filtered, while Bourbon isn’t. Yes, you were thinking right, Jack Daniel’s falls under this category.

Rye Whiskey

You need not be an expert to get this one right. This type needs to have rye in order to be called Rye Whiskey. The mash has to, however, be composed of more than 51 per cent rye for it to be an American Rye Whiskey. The other ingredients that go into the mash include corn and malted barley. There is no requirement for rye to be used in the making of Canadian whisky.

Irish Whiskey

This is one of the most popular whiskies in the world, thanks to its lighter flavour derived from blending malts and grains. As it usually goes through a triple distillation process and is aged for a minimum of three years, it tends to be extra smooth and for this reason, it is also called ‘water’ in Dublin.

Scotch

Whiskies from the land of Scotland are called Scotch. However, they need to be distilled and matured in oak casks for at least three years. While it’s best enjoyed neat, scotch does great even when it’s paired with certain types of food. However, there are no set rules when it comes to drinking your bottle of Scotch – all you need is an open mind and palate.

There are many other types like Canadian, Japanese and also Indian, but for now, we think this is enough.


P.S: This article was definitely not written under the influence of whiskey.


Lead image: Shutterstock

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