What makes a good whiskey

How to recognize good whiskey

The high-quality raw materials, a meticulous manufacturing process and, last but not least, the lengthy barrel aging are responsible for the aroma of a good whiskey. Not only every type of whiskey, but also the content of every single barrel tastes different. The water used plays an important role in the later quality of the whiskey. The hardness, microorganisms and the peat and mineral content of the water determine its later quality.

The quality of what is probably the most important raw material, namely barley, is divided into nine levels, with only the first three levels being suitable for malting. Decisive for this quality classification are a low nitrogen and protein content, but a high starch content and a high probability of germination. It is also very important that the barley is ripe and very dry. After the rather complex manufacturing process, which we do not want to go into further here because it would go beyond the topic, the whiskey is stored in oak barrels. The years of aging in these barrels are responsible for the taste of the whiskey.

How do you differentiate between the different types of whiskey?

The different names of whiskey come from the different types of grain from which it was made.ยด

01Grain = Distillates from unmalted barley, wheat and oats, rye or corn (depending on the continent)

02Blended Whiskeys = Mixtures of different distillates and whiskeys

03Rye = mostly made from rye (at least 51%)

04Bourbon = mostly made from corn (at least 51%)

05Corn = mostly made from corn (at least 80%)

06Malt = made exclusively from barley malt, malted (mainly from Scotland)

By different factors these whiskeys are subdivided into

01New Spirit = Distillates that meet the minimum requirements for whiskey

02Cask strength = No more water was added during bottling, different alcohol content

03Vintage = comes from the designated year

04Single cask = comes from just one barrel (mostly Scottish whiskey)

05Single barrel = comes from a single barrel (mostly American whiskey)

06Blended Malt (also Vatted or Pure Malt) = comes from barrels of different distilleries, made entirely from malted barley

07Finish = Reference to the origin of the barrels used, e.g. "Arran Sauternes Finish" - stored in disused Sauternes sweet wine barrels

08Scotch, Irish, American = Reference to the country of origin

Scotch whiskey, made in Scotland, is divided into blended whiskey (branded product with which the taste always remains the same) and malt whiskey (100% pure product, not mixed)

[The picture is from barockschloss - via Flickr - thank you very much]