Words by: Simon Difford
In accordance with the Scotch Whisky Act of 1988, for a whisky to be termed a ‘Scotch whisky’ it must be distilled in Scotland from fermented cereal grains, yeast and water. Maturation must also be in Scotland for minimum of three years in oak casks no larger than 700 litres.
In addition to the above, to be termed a Scotch whisky:
1. Cereal grain must be the only source of starch.
2. Enzymes must be natural enzymes from malted barley (it is not permitted for enzymes to be added).
3. No additives are permitted other than water and spirit caramel for colour correction.
Scotch whisky is the only type of whisk(e)y that can be made in Scotland. I.e. Any product made in Scotland and sold as whisk(e)y must confirm to the above.
Until the 1830s almost all Scottish whisky was made exclusively from malted barley and produced in pot stills - i.e., it was what we would today call 'malt whisky'. However, two developments brought about 'Scottish grain whisky' and 'Scotch blended whisky'. The first was the development of a new type of still, known variously as the column still, patent still, continuous still or Coffey still; the second was the repeal of the British Corn Laws.
Single Malt Scotch Whisky...
How Single Malt Scotch Whisky is made...
Scotch Whisky Regions ...
A limited edition of 2,490 bottles released May 2016, The Circus predominantly comprises old parcels of blended Scotch and blended grain whisky, blended together and then cask aged for several years. Zesty orange, vanilla, white chocolate fudge and hazelnuts with nutmeg and faint back pepper. More woody with water amplifying almond and biscuit.
Launched in June 2016 as part of a range of spirts designed to represent good value-for-money and branded to sit alongside NV Absinthe, established in 2007. Other products in the range include: Caribbean White Rhum, London Dry Gin and Triple Distilled French Vodka. New leather, beeswax, bamboo, stewed pear/apple, cigar box, zesty orange and light white pepper spice.
Blended with malts from 1960s to the mid-1970s from Macallan, Glenrothes, Tamdhu and a little peated Bunnahabhain along with old grain whisky from North British, 4 parts malt to 1 part grain. Only 210 bottles were produced. Sherry laced chocolate sponge cake, pastry, barley water, rum and raisin, toffee and butterscotch with faint dried apricot. Water releases golden syrup and spice.
Owned by French company La Martiniquaise, this non-age-statement blend is mainly sold in France where buoyant sales make it one of the world’s best-selling whiskies. Dark demerara sugar, vanilla fudge and barley water with tobacco leaf, chocolate, mocha coffee, apple, light spice and faint dried grass.
Ballantine’s 17 year old is characterised by sweet orchard fruits and subtle smokiness. Toasty freshly sawn old oak, new leather, vanilla, light cinnamon and nutmeg spice. Faint dark chocolate and wisps of smoke. Water amplifies wood smoke.
Hard Fired is so named due to being aged in American oak ex-bourbon barrels charred for a second time in Scotland before being filled with whisky. Ballantine’s say, “The signature hard firing of the barrels unlocks vanilla notes and hints of smoke and spice and provides a distinctive smoothness.” Lightly smoky scorched oak, pastry, croissant, ripe pear, blackcurrant, butterscotch toffee with vanilla, new leather and buttery biscuit.
This 2016 Edition is the third in the John Walker & Sons Private Collection, designed to showcase innovative maturation experiments and the craft behind Johnnie Walker scotch whiskies. Master Blender, Jim Beveridge selected rare and experimental casks to create a predominantly grain based honeyed... Faint dungy notes before buttery toast, honey, vanilla and corn-on-the-cob.
Single malt Scotch whisky from the Deanston Distillery forms the heart of Scottish Leader Original. This is blended with other malt and grain whiskies. Buttery vanilla fudge, malt and toffee with pencil shavings, faint smokiness and hints of peach and apricot.
Released in September 2015, the Eternal Reserve name references “an innovative blending technique to create an exceptional whisky that will literally live forever.” “Literally live forever” may be somewhat overstating this brand’s ability to achieve eternity and the “innovative blending technique”.. Honey, soft leather, Demerara sugar, toasty oak, vanilla crème anglaise. Lavender emerges with water.
Mellow Gold joined The Famous Grouse range in July 2015 and was created by Master Blender Gordon Motion “to deliver a subtly sweeter, mellow flavour.” It is a blend of whiskies matured in a combination of sherry and bourbon casks. Honeyed butterscotch, cream-of-soda vanilla, digestive biscuit, cinnamon and nutmeg spice with overripe banana, faint lavender and potpourri.
This 2015 Edition is the second in the JOHN WALKER & SONS Private Collection, designed to showcase innovative maturation experiments and the craft behind Johnnie Walker scotch whiskies. Master Blender, Jim Beveridge selected rare and experimental casks to create a blend with a fruity character. Werther's Original caramel, green apple, overripe pineapple, kiwi fruit and tinned peach slices with light toastiness, coconut and bees wax.
Released in November 2014 and limited to 3,456 bottles globally, Cutty Sark Thirty Three Year Old is presented in a bespoke bottle decorated with sunburst and geometric designs in keeping with the Art Deco name. Honeycomb, cinnamon, red apple and baked peach with Parma violet, boiled sweets (hard candy), mocha coffee, vanilla and stewed prunes.
Founded in 1964, Inver House comprises of five distilleries: Pulteney, Balblair, Knockdhu, Speyburn and Balmenach. This limited edition 50th anniversary bottling is a blend of 50 year old Hankey Bannister blended with 10 year old whiskies (aged in ex-bourbon barrels) from all five distilleries. Honey, fresh and dried apricot, toasted almond with nutmeg spice. Water releases cream-of-soda vanilla and peachy fruit.
The first in a series of Private Collection Editions with releases planned annually 2020, this ‘2014 Edition’ is blended from 29 casks, chosen by Master Blender, Jim Beveridge “to expresses the smoky flavour characteristics of Scotland’s Highland, Island and Islay whisky regions”. Tightly integrated aromatic smoke, leather, salt, dried fruit, nuts, vanilla and varnished cedar wood. Water amplifies fruit and releases earthy coal dust and waxy notes.