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A Guide To Whiskey

January 05, 2022 by Antone Boustani

What are the different types of whisky? It’s a wonder that bartenders across the world haven't risen in revolt. From Whisky to whiskey or is it Bourbon or Scotch? Its enough to keep you up at night. Lets settle the matter and do a deep dive in that caramel looking beverage.

What is the difference between types of Whiskey, Scotch, Bourbon.... ?
Great question. Whisk(e)y is the general overlying term to categorize them all. Basically, they’re all whiskeys and just different types of whiskeys. After that, it is just breaking them down into where in the world it comes from, the distillation processes which each region uses, and the grains used. Here’s where the main 5 whiskey types come from.


•    Scotch – Scotland
•    Bourbon – USA
•    Irish Whiskey – Ireland
•    Canadian Whiskey – Canada
•    Japanese Whisky – Japan


All these types of whiskey  are distilled from various and/or specific grains (corn, wheat, rye, oats, and barley) and aged in barrels. In a basic sense, whiskey is simply distilled, hop-less beer (99.9% of the time). Grains are steeped and yeasted, converting the sugars from the grains into alcohol. Each grain has a different sugar content level. For example, corn has a higher sugar content than wheat or rye, giving a whiskey made with corn a sweeter taste than one with wheat or rye. After converting the sugars to alcohol, whiskey making deviates from beer making and goes through various distillation processes, dependent on which type of whiskey it is. They are all at least 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).
 
Each country has its own set of regulations for producing their whiskies. These regulations combined with their local natural resources, agriculture, and traditions create the foundations for each country’s whiskey.  Let’s take a look.

Is it Whisky or Whiskey?
Spelling – what’s with the different spellings (whisky or whiskey) when talking about types of whiskey? Neither is wrong, unless you are regionally biased. Different regions have different historical spellings.

•    Whiskey – generally US & Ireland
•    Whisky – Scotland, Canada, and Japan
 
American Whiskey
In the beginning Europeans first arrived to the US and they found an abundance of rye, giving birth to rye whiskey in the US. Later after settling into present day Kentucky, corn grew very well and America’s treasure, bourbon came to be. There are many kinds of whiskeys made in the US ranging from unregulated moonshine to white whiskey to the highly regulated Bottled in Bond Bourbon. Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, and Rye are the primary types we’ll take a look at.

Bourbon
•    Originally and most distilleries are from the South, particularly Kentucky, but doesn’t have to be. Must be made in US
•    Must be made from at least 51% corn
•    No additives but water allowed (no colouring, caramel and flavouring additives)
•    Must be aged in charred new-oak barrels for at least 2 years to be called “straight” bourbon

Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey (Tennessee Bourbon)
•    Is a specific variation of bourbon made in Tennessee and has a additional set of regulations
•    51-79% corn
•    Other additional regulation – must be filtered through maple charcoal chunks before aging (called Lincoln county process)
•    Jack Daniels is a Tennessee whiskey

Bottled in Bond
•    A bottling and labelling set of legal regulations for American whiskeys.
•    Stems from Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 – was to ensure authentic and quality whiskey
•    Must be aged at least 4 years
•    At least 100 proof
•    Product of one distillery, from one season
•    Purpose was originally to create a standard of quality for bourbon, but some distilleries also produce bonded rye whiskey, corn whiskey, and apple brandy.

 Rye Whiskey
•    At least 51% rye grain (can range anywhere from 51%-100%)
•    Crisper, spicier, and sharper mouthfeel than bourbon
•    Charred new-oak barrels at least two years
•    No additives but water

What do American Whiskey's Taste Like?
Bourbon has a caramel like sweetness and vanilla tones. Generally the sweetest of the whisk(e)y family. A bit of smokiness from being barrelled in charred oak. Tennessee whiskey – tastes  like bourbon. Some say it is a bit mellower, slightly sweeter, and a tinge smoky or sooty due to the additional charcoal filtering. Rye – a spicier flavour profile of bourbon and a touch less sweet. Bottled in Bond – tend to have a little more kick since they are on the higher proof side, otherwise simply put, they are a nice bourbon.

Things to Consider: A lot of classic whiskey cocktails were originally crafted with Rye whiskey’s spicier and slightly less sweet flavour profile in mind. Although today you’ll most likely find bars making their whiskey cocktails from bourbon over rye. Rye is great for a classic Manhattan or Old Fashioned. For the sours, Bourbon’s sweeter profile makes a mean Whiskey Sour. Personally, we feel they are like one’s children, we love them all, but some days you love one a little more than the others.

Canadian Whisky
There are two main factors shaping Canadian Whisky, Prohibition and rye. Initially rye was one of the few crops which could survive eastern Canada’s harsh winters. Eventually better farmlands discovered to the west lessened rye’s importance. Still today Canadian whisky can be called “rye whisky” even though it is more likely to use corn than any other grain. There is much less rye used in most Canadian whisky than in American rye whiskies where the largest ingredient must be rye. And in regards to Prohibition, its chokehold on American production led to a boom in Canada. Canadian whiskies became the leading supplier to speakeasies in the States. Even today, America buys about 75% of the whisky Canada produces.

•    Most relaxed rules of the major whisk(e)y nations (each distillery can follow its own production process and methods)
-    Must be mashed, distilled and aged in Canada
-    Must be aged in small wood for not less than three years
-    May contain caramel and flavouring.
-    Must possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky – I know, vague right? But that’s what their FDA stipulates.
•    Similar to Scotch, each Canadian Whisky is generally the product of a single distillery (distillers rarely share barrels or buy whisky from each other).
•    Regardless of grain, Canadian distillers usually create two whiskies (a base whisky + a flavouring whisky) and then combine them together to create the final product.
-    The base whisky is often distilled at a higher alcohol content and matured in barrels that have been used one or more times, reducing the grain and barrel’s influence on the flavour and giving at the characteristic “smoothness” or “elegance” of Canadian whiskies.
-    The flavouring whisky is usually distilled at a lower alcohol content, allowing the grain derived flavours to be highlighted. It is also usually aged in virgin barrels or a mix of virgin and used barrels, extracting more flavour from the barrel.
•    Can be called Canadian Whisky, Canadian Rye Whisky or Rye Whisky.

Scotch Whiskey
•    Made in Scotland
•    Primarily malted barley, along with other grains, corn, wheat…
•    Here’s the main characterizations of Scotch:-
-    Single-malt whisky – often considered top dog amongst aficionados:
-    100% Malted barley in small pot stills, at least 2 distillation runs
-    Product of single distillery
-    Aged at least 3 years in oak casks
-    The pot still (alembic still) – ancient distilling tool virtually unchanged for millennia, produces rich and complex character
-    Often is categorized further by region of origin (areas close to ocean tend to absorb a bit of the briny sea air while inland regions are usually more floral from Scotland’s Lowlands- also some regions will traditionally use more peat more than others, see “Other Notes” below)
-    Blended malt whisky:-
-    blend of 100% malted barley whiskies from two or more distilleries
-    Blended whisky:-
-    Combining single-malt whisky with corn or wheat whisky
-    Single-grain whisky:-
-    Used mostly for blending
-    100% corn or wheat
-    Lighter body, produced in column still, not the small pot stills

•    Other Notes: personal preferences are also often determined by the “peatiness” of the Scotch, whether it being mild (or even none) to having a more aggressive peaty flavour. That smoky flavour comes from early in the distillation process. The barley is first soaked and then dried over burning peat. An example of that heavier, distinctive peaty flavour can often be found in Scotch from Islay, an Isle just off the coast in western Scotland.

Irish Whiskey
Some consider Ireland the birthplace of whiskey, as far back as 6th century AD.
•    Made in Ireland
•    Shares some similarities to Scotch, but has its own deviations as well
-    Single-malt whiskey – mostly the same as in Scotland:-
-    100% Barley in pot stills, usually 3 distillation runs
-    A closed kiln heated by coal or gas is used to roast the malted barley, giving a clear barley flavour instead of the smoky peat flavours often found in Scotch
-    Product of single distillery
-    Aged at least 3 years
-    Grain whiskey:-
-    Lighter than single malts
-    Corn or wheat distilled in a column still
-    Blended whiskey:-
-    Combination of single-malt and grain whiskey
-    Single pot still whiskey:-
-    Unique to Ireland
-    100% barley, both malted and unmalted, in a pot still

Japanese Whiskey
Japan’s distilleries were first modelled after the Scotch whiskies, and are produced much in the same way. There aren’t a ton of Japanese distilleries, but the ones they have are quite good.

•    Distillation nearly identical to Scotch.
•    Commercially produced in Japan since the 1920’s, and after nearly a century, you’ll frequently find a Japanese whisky listed on “Best of the Best” lists.
•    Japanese distilleries will often vary from Scotch distilleries in their use of more still shapes and sizes. Scotland distilleries will usually have just one or two house still sizes, creating a specific style. Japanese distilleries will often have an array of sizes, allowing the Japanese whisky makers to craft a range of styles and tastes according to their individual desires.

Other Fun Whisk(e)y Facts
•    What is malted barley?
Raw barley that has been soaked, germinated, and then dried to halt the germination process. In Scotch, the drying process often happens using burning peat, imparting in varying degrees Scotch’s classic smoky, peaty flavour.

Brand new oak barrels are required in making Bourbon. Scotch and Irish whiskey commonly age in the used bourbon barrels. Occasionally Scotch will age in used wine (or sherry, port, madeira) barrels, but is fairly rare due to the scarcity of the wine barrels and the availability of the bourbon barrels. The barrel age and type (if previously used for sherry, port, etc.) will impart significant flavour profiles to the whisk(e)y.

Irish pot stills are much larger than those used for Scotch, yielding a slightly milder flavour.

There are over 20 countries producing their own whiskey. India, Australia, South Africa, Taiwan, and New Zealand are just a few of the many.

If you love your Whiskey like us at Kennards Self Storage do, then you will love to take care of your Whiskey and keep it secure – Especially if you like collecting a bottle or two. Use our specially designed Wine Storage cabinets that are perfectly suited to Whiskey Storage.

Storing whiskey is a passion of Kennards Self Storage. Kennards Storage has purpose built wine storage cabinets in temperature controlled environment that are accessible 24 hours a day. Wine Storage can be easy to organise. Self storage is great because you get your own space and there are no lock in contracts meaning you only pay for the days used. The quoted amount is for a one month period. Pay for that period and then get a refund for the days not used if you move out before months end. This pro-rata amount is calculated to the day you finish. 

Log on to www.kss.com.au and you will find a very easy to use web site.


You will find Kennards Wine Storage and be able to view prices and sizes. You can then reserve or rent a space at a location near you with in a couple of clicks. 
 
If you purchase Whiskey online, get it delivered to your Kennards Storage facility and we will accept the delivery on your behalf and then contact you so that you can pick them up or put them away in your cellar. No more whiskey sitting at your front door waiting for you to come home.

Kennards Self storage provides storage solutions to the casual drinker, the whiskey collector and businesses like whiskey importers and restaurants.

Kennards Self Storage – Creating the space for Change

Antone Boustani

Antone joined the Kennards Self Storage in 2012 as a Team Support Manager. Progressing to the roles of NSW Rostering Co-ordinator and Waterloo Centre manager led to the position of NSW Operations Manager in 2019. Antone has gained leadership skills at previous roles as a Manager at KFC and Decorug and did run his own business a Deli / Fruit shop called Naremburn Natural. He loves that we are the people that care and how that is achieved through procedures that enable our teams to offer great customer service. He is invested in improving himself and the team around him and believes that doing what you love is the key. Outside work Antone loves travelling overseas as much as getting on the open road and you can find him watching any type of sport but especially cricket.

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