The 6 Types of Whiskey You Should Know
If there is one thing, make that two things, that the world has to thank Ireland for, it would be its beer and whiskey. These two commodities have become part and parcel of Ireland’s international identity.
This is not surprising at all considering that the country is the world’s 4th largest exporter of whiskey with $580 million worth of Irish whiskey exported in 2016. Whiskey and beer are such important commodities in Ireland that the industry provides employment to 92,000 workers and contributes almost $2.3 billion to its economy every year.
Others will beg to disagree with this since they believe that Scotland is the birthplace of whiskey. But whether this alcoholic drink came from Ireland or Scotland, no one will argue that it has become a product of the world and is now being produced by different countries including Japan, United States, and even England.
It is true that this beverage conquered the world, but the reverse is also true as the world also conquered it.
Source of Whiskey
This alcoholic beverage is made from fermented grain but depending on the variety, it can also be made from corn, barley, wheat, and rye. Despite the variation of the grains from which it is made, the process of making whiskey will always involve the fermentation of the chosen grains.
The distilled grain is then placed in wooden barrels where they are aged. Don’t worry about spelling it with an “e” the way they do in the United States and Ireland, or without an “e” which is common in Canada, Scotland and Japan.
The history of whiskey is filled with so many ups and downs, but one of the most dramatic events is the Malt Tax of 1725 which threatened to shut down the production of whiskey in Northern Europe’s. With most of the whiskey distillery moonlighting or shutting down, it became a hard-to-find commodity during the American Revolution that it was even used as a currency.
The malt tax paved the way for the Whiskey Rebellion but instead of achieving its purpose, it only showcased the strength and influence of the federal government headed at that time by President George Washington.
Types of Whiskey
While they undergo almost the same process, not all whiskeys are created equal. Some taste better than others depending on their age, type, and flavor. Even whiskeys of the same type have remarkable differences in taste and aroma. If you want to be a connoisseur, then make sure you familiarize yourself with the different types.
Bourbon is aged from two to eight years and has a sweet, woody flavor with a hint of vanilla. It is produced in the United States, not necessarily in Kentucky, and lives up to its reputation as the American whiskey especially when paired with smoked ribs. It is best enjoyed in cocktails like Old Fashioned, Mint Julep, Whiskey Sour or Boulevardier.
At least 51% of Bourbon is made from corn while the rest is typically made of barley, rye and maybe wheat. It is corn which gives it the sweet flavor but what makes it so special is the use of charred new oak where it is barreled and aged.
One of the most notable Bourbon brands is Jim Beam which has become a family heirloom after it was passed on for seven generations. Jim Beam, which is produced in the United States by Beam Suntory, has sold 7.4 million of its 9-liter cases. Not surprising at all considering the whiskey tastes great and it got Mila Kunis as its endorser in 2014.
Another Bourbon that promises to impress you with its sweet taste is Maker’s Mark. Instead of the usual corn, rye, and malt bourbon, this one is made of wheat. Owner T. William Samuels, Sr., may have created the mash bill but the name, label and the bottle’s signature wax dipping is credited to his wife, Margie.
Rye, which is aged in two to 10 years, is a light and spicy whiskey with a bitter hint. It is made of at least 51% rye which has a distinct taste and it goes well with pecan pie. Rye is best tried in cocktails like Rye Old Fashioned, Brooklyn or Sazerac. It is much like Bourbon except that the major component of at least 51% is not corn but rye and the rest anything from wheat, malted barley or corn.
And just like Bourbon, it is also aged in charred new oak barrels which give it a spicy kick and amber or brownish color. The oak barrel also gives it that vanilla-caramel taste. Rye’s aging is carefully regulated so if you are looking for a Straight Rye then look for whiskey that is at least two years of age. Check the label for the age statement.
One of the best brands when it comes to Rye is the Bulleit “95” Rye Small Batch Frontier Whiskey with emphasis on the 95. Be ready for a pleasant fruity citrus and sweet oak taste as it burns down through your esophagus. Another bestseller is the Whistlepig 10-Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey which is almost a hundred percent made of Rye and aged for 10 years.
The Tennessee Whiskey, aged from three to four years, has a sweet flavor but comes with a hint of charcoal. It is an ideal drinking companion when you have pulled pork. This whiskey has a light brown to amber color and just like Bourbon, is made from corn by up to 51% with the rest consisting of wheat, barley or rye. Among its popular cocktails are Lynchburg Lemonade and Jack and Coke.
What distinguishes Tennessee Whiskey from the rest is the Lincoln County Process which requires the whiskey to undergo charcoal filtering prior to aging. It’s not just ordinary charcoal that is used for this process, but charcoal sourced from sugar maple trees that have been specially selected and burned.
One of the best brands for the Tennessee Whiskey is Jack Daniel’s which is produced by the Jack Daniel Distillery. This whiskey is, however, not available in Moore which is the brand’s home county.
As a dry county, the sale of alcoholic beverages like whiskey is not allowed by the government. The company has continuously marketed Jack Daniel’s as a Tennessee Whiskey even if it can be classified as straight bourbon following the regulatory criteria.
lf you want a light-bodied whiskey then your best bet is Canadian Whiskey which has been aged from four to six years. The Canadian Whiskey is great with chocolate especially when you opt for the popular signature drinks like Ginger Whiskey and “Seven and Seven”.
This whiskey has a light to dark amber color and is made from corn and rye. It used to be prestigious in the United States but has suffered from several misconceptions.
Unlike other whiskeys that have to follow several production guidelines and laws, the only requirement is that Canadian Whiskey should not only be made in Canada. More importantly, it has to be aged for at least three years inside 700-liter barrels made of wood. When all these are followed, the manufacturer can decide on the distillation and the type of cask used for the whiskey.
One of the most notable brands for the Canadian Whiskey is Crown Royal which is produced by Diageo right in Canada. The whiskey was first presented as a gift to England’s royal couple when they visited Canada in 1939. It also started posting a nutritional information label in October 2016, a first for an alcoholic drink in the United States.
The Canadian Club Whiskey is another popular brand for the Tennessee Whiskey. This whiskey was manufactured as a result of the prohibition on alcohol implemented all over the state.
It was founded by Hiram Walker, a mogul when it comes to manufacturing whiskey. Walker was the prime mover of the act of aging whiskey for up to five years even if most whiskeys are being sold in the market without aging.
The Scotch comes with a smokey but fruity flavor. This whiskey has been aged from three to 30 years and is great when paired with steak. The pale gold to the rich amber color of the whiskey is a breath of fresh air compared to the darker brown whiskeys in the market.
To be a legitimate Scotch, it has to be aged for at least three years in oak casks. Instead of the usual corn or Rye it is sourced primarily from malted barley which defines its essence. Among its popular cocktail preparations are Penicillin, and the Blood and Sand. Since the Scotch is made in Scotland, you might as well get used to it being spelled as whiskey.
One of the popular brands for scotch is Dewars which is owned by Bacardi. The whiskey has an 80 proof and has several variants including Dewar’s Signature, Dewar’s 18, White Label, Dewar’s 12, Dewar’s 15 and Dewar’s Scratched Cask. Another brand of scotch that has become popular the world over is Johnnie Walker which traces its beginnings to Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire in Scotland.
Your list of whiskey will not be completed without the Irish Whiskey which was aged for three to 12 years. It has a sweet honey toast flavor that comes great with seafood. Among its signature drinks are McGlashan and Irish Coffee. This whiskey’s color spans from pale straw to light brown or amber. It originated in Ireland where the whiskey is placed in wood casks.
The Irish Whiskey is made from malted or unmalted Barley with other types of grains added. Despite the existence of young and relatively new distillers in Ireland namely Kilbeggan, Cooley and new Midleton, demand for Irish Whiskey is on the rise.
One of the most popular brands of the Irish Whiskey is Jameson which was produced by Pernod Ricard in the United States. Ironically, John Jameson, who created the Irish Whiskey, hails from Scotland.
Whiskey generally passes through the process of distillation. It derived its name from the Latin word aqua vitae which means water of life. True indeed, you have to get a fill of your favorite whiskey whatever life brings you. Because for some people, whiskey is also life.
What’s your favorite type of Whiskey? Tell me below in the comments!