Definition: (in Scotland and Ireland) whisky.
Origin: Late 16th century from the Scottish Gaelic uisge beatha, meaning 'Water of Life'
It's no secret that the Scottish love their whisky, with the earliest record of distillation in Scotland dating back to 1494 - which is believed to have begun life as simply a way to make use of rain-soaked barley. There are 3 different types of Scotch whisky: malt whisky (also known as single malt), grain whisky, and blended whisky.
- Malt Whisky is made from malted barley, water, and yeast which is distilled in copper pot kilns and matured in barrels for a minimum of three years.
- Grain Whisky is produced by mixing malted barley with unmalted barley alongside other cereals such as maize and wheat and combined with water and yeast.
- Blended Whisky involves mixing different single malts with grain whisky. The art of blending is a close guarded secret by many distilleries.
Did you know, the spirit cannot be called Scotch until it has aged in Scotland for at least three years?
In case you needed an excuse for a wee dram here is our run down of the top 5 single malt Scotch whiskies to enjoy with your haggis this coming Burns' Night:
Coming in at number 5 is Glenmorangie, a single malt whisky founded by William Matheson in the Scottish Highlands in 1843. You can learn more and enjoy their distillery tour on the beautiful Dornoch Firth if you are in the area.
4. The Singleton
At number 4 is The Singleton single malt whisky established in 1897 in Glendullan, sitting on the banks of the River Dullen. Master of Malts Keith Law draws on 36 years of experience to blend the two whiskys into the rather delicious Singleton Glendullan.
3. The Macallan
One of the first distillers in Scotland to be legally licensed, The Macallan was founded by Alexander Reid in the north-east of Scotland by the river Spey. Definitely worth a visit you can choose from 2 distillery tours, with the longer tour (called the Precious Tour) for those who wish to understand the creation of the Macallan in greater depth, and ends with a tutored nosing and tasting in the nosing room.
2. The Glenlivet
In 1822 founder George Smith established The Glenlivet distillery in the Livet valley, hidden away from prying eyes when the production of whisky was illegal. Today you can take a tour of the distillery and enjoy a whisky tasting completely legally.
The cream of the crop at number one is Glenfiddich single malt - Gaelic for "Valley of the Deer". This whisky was founded by William Grant alongside his family in 1886 in Dufftown and if you would like to find out more a previous blog explored the Grant clan and this great story .
Did you know that 34 bottles of whisky are exported from Scotland every second?
We would recommend enjoying your whisky of choice in a small glass tumbler, drinking it neat, with a dash of water, or on the rocks (on ice)!
If you happen to be down in the Scottish Borders, why not visit the first Scotch Whisky distillery in the Borders since 1837? We told the story when it launched last year on the blog and have to admit we enjoyed a rather lovely bottle of gin from the same distillery on our work night out.
Should you be in Edinburgh during January 25th, why not enjoy a traditional Burns' Supper at the award winning Usquabae Bar & Restaurant? Located on Hope Street, just a stones throw away from our very own ScotlandShop on Queensferry Street, book yourself a table here.