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 ...
This ‘Centenary Blend’ was created by Sir Alexander Walker in 1920 to celebrate the founding of the company by John Walker 100 years before. The blend consists of whiskies from both the Highlands and Islay, each matured in oak for at least 18 years. Voluptuous buttered honeycomb with malty cereal, plump dried fruit, just backed crispy bread, rose petal aromas and delicate wafts of salty smoke and peat.
Named the magistrate in Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘Rob Roy’ who tackled a sword-wielding Highlander with a red hot poker at the inn at Clachan of Aberfoyle. Colloquially known as BNJ, indeed previous bottle designs prominently featured the initials. Stewed apple, malted barley, nubuck leather with cinnamon, faint nutmeg and lemon zest.
Released to coincide with Burns night in January 2012 and limited to 5,000 bottles, this is the first blend created by master blender Kirsteen Campbell and is an extension of Cutty Sark 25 Year Old. Rich, sherried rancio nose with overripe banana, soy sauce, nuts (grilled almonds, walnut-like oiliness), raisins, sandalwood and a faint whiff of tar.
Although there is no age statement, we are told the whiskies in this blend are aged from 12 years old to nearly 30 years old with different ages of Aberfeldy adding layers of complexity. Fruit cake and nuts with leather and toasty oak. Faint vegetal influence.
Created by Compass Box in 2013 for Selfridges as a homage to the store’s founder Gordon Selfridge, credited for revolutionising the retail experience and making shopping entertaining. The Entertainer contains a whopping 75% malts (Highlands, Speyside and Islay) to 25% Lowland single grain whisky. Refined herbal smokiness, coal dust, perfectly done buttered toast, vanilla and earthy dry leafy forest floor.
Named after and inspired by Delilah’s in Chicago, voted ‘Best whisky bar in America’ many times, this blended whisky celebrates the bars 20th Anniversary and is designed to be drunk as a shot with beer. A limited release of 6,324 bottles were filled in July 2013. Fruity, leathery and biscuity. Cereal, nectarine, plump apricot, cinnamon and nutmeg.
First released in 2007, a second bottling of 1,480 gilt-engraved decanters were filled in 2013 with 500 will be made available in total, with just 500 released in September 2013 and the remainder made available in stages over the course of 2014 and 2015. Cherry wood, toasty oak and old wardrobe lifted by stewed plum, raisins, linseed oil and nubuck leather.
A blend of several casks of blended Scotch, blended at quite young ages, then put back into cask and left to age, a few casks being 33 years-old. Compass box acquired these casks and from them blended this November 2013 release of 1,698 individually-numbered bottles. Dried fruit, sherry, old oak wardrobe and leather with nutmeg and cinnamon. Water amplifies oak, sherry and raisony 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.
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.
Launched in 1992 as the "whisky for connoisseurs", this even more premium version of the already deluxe Johnnie Walker has a proportion of malts as old as 60 years in the blend. The square sided blue-green flint glass bottle is inspired by the original Johnnie Walker bottle. Pungent, integrated slightly oily and lightly smoked. Ground cereal grains, dried coconut, old leather, hessian sack and freshly cut old mahogany wood.
Introduced in 1909, Johnnie Walker Black contains some 40 single malts including Talisker, Cardhu, Lagavulin and a high proportion of Islay malts. Originally called ‘Extra Special Old Highland Whisky’, the name was changed to ‘Black Label’ in 1909 due to customers ordering by the colour of the label Elegantly rich and pleasantly smoky with butterscotch, crème caramel, vanilla and mandarin zest with oily nuttiness.
According to Diageo, "The Johnnie Walker Double Black blend is created using peaty West Coast whiskies to particularly emphasise the smoky elements that have made Johnnie Walker Whiskies famous.” Flinty, orange blossom honey with a slight whiff of struck match and linseed oil.
A deluxe Scotch blend of grain whisky and a high proportion of single malt whiskies, all a minimum of 25 years old. Available as a limited release, each bottle is individually numbered. Cereal, nubuck leather, honey drizzled mum’s apple crumble nose with pear skin and fresh scratched green apple skin aromas.
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.