Thursday, November 29, 2012

Know Your Whiskey: The Difference Between Scotch and Bourbon

Both Scotch and Bourbon, two of the most popular distilled achololic beverage in the world, are merely different types of whiskey.  As whiskey is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide, both Scotch and Bourbon share unifying characteristics, such as the fermentation of grains, dstillation, and aging in wooden barrels. 

So what's the difference between Scotch and Bourbon, you may ask.  In other words, what makes Scotch Scotch and Bourbon Bourbon.  In this article, I will explain to you the major differences in a simple, easy to understand, format.

1) Location
The most obvious difference between the two acholol is the geographic location in which they are distilled.  Scotch is distilled in Scotland, while Bourbon is distilled in America, more specifically, in the state of Kentucky. 

2) Spelling
Scotch is spelled "whisky", and Bourbon is spelled "whiskey".  They are really two slightly differently spelt words for the same thing. 

Here’s a quick way to remember how some of the world’s biggest producers spell their products:
  • Countries that have E’s in their names (UnitEd StatEs and IrEland) tend to spell it whiskEy (plural whiskeys)
  • Countries without E’s in their names (Canada, Scotland, and Japan) spell it whisky (plural whiskies)
3) Distilling
Scotch whisky is made from whole barley and water, and are aged in oak casks for no less than three years.  Scotch is then bottled at no less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).

Bourbon, on the other hand, may be distilled from corn, rye, or barley grains, or a two-thirds corn and other grain mixture.  It is then aged in new charred oak barrels for at least two years.  By law, the barrels cannot be reused, and are discarded or reused by Scotch producers.  Bourbon is then bottled at no more than 80% alcohol by volume (160 proof).
4) Flavor
Scotch tends to take on a smokey flavor, due to the peat-smoked oat casks during distillation.  Bourbon, on the other hand, tends to be sweeter, due to the corn grains used.  If Bourbon is distilled with rye grains instead of corn, they tend to be more dry and not as sweet.

This about sums up the major differences between Scotch and Bourbon.  Bottoms-up, my friend, and stay classy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How to store Scotch

There are a few things to keep in mind when you are storing your scotch, unopened or not.  Three are three main elements you want to minimize contact to in order to prolong the longevity of your precious Scotch: light, air and heat

How does light affect Scotch?  Scotch is generally stored in lighter colored bottles, usually clear, to show of its amazing radiant color.  Similar to beer, light damages the quality of scotch and can speed up the deterioration of the drink.  If you have bottles that are clear, consider storing them in their boxes, or at the very least at the back of the cabinet where light permeates the least.

How does air affect Scotch?  Coming in constant contact with air can result in oxidation, which can affect the flavor and texture.  Close the bottle cap tightly after pouring a drink, and try to finish the bottle as fast as possible. 

How does heat affect Scotch?  A higher temperature will result in faster evaporation if the seal of the cork is not 100%.  Unlike wine, Scotch does not mature in the bottle, so there's really not an "ideal temperature" to store it.  Keep scotch away from direct sources of heat, and consider storing bottles in a cool place where temperature fluctuations are kept to a minimum.  There are no hard and fast rules about how fast you should consume scotch after the bottle has been opened. A year seems like a good general guideline, but if stored properly, scotch will keep much longer than that.

Keep it classy, my friends.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Best Glass To Drink Scotch From

For quite some time, I used to drink my scotch from a regular tumbler.  Perhaps I was under the impression that there's little differences in drinking from different glasses, or maybe I had the notion that drinking from a fancy glass come across as snobbish.  I honestly can't remember. 

However, as my interest in scotch grew, so did my curiosity in drinking from something other than a glass tumbler.  I did my research, tried out numerous glasses, and talked to several scotch enthusiast.  All the arrows seemed to point towards one glass: the Glencairn Glass.

What is the Glencairn Glass, you ask?  Well, the glass is developed by a company in Scotland called Glencairn Crystal.  It measures approximately 115 mm in height, and is made mostly of lead-free crystal.  Launched in 2002, the glass is tapered for to concentrate aromas to enhance the nosing experience.  The tapered mouth also allows ease of drinking.  The wide bowl shows off the scotch's color as well as encouraging evapoation through its surface area and contact with your hand, while the base is designed to be easy for the user to hold on to the drink. 

The popularity and recognition of the quality of the glass is apparent.  The Glencairn Glass is the first style of glass to be endorsed by the Scotch Whisky Association.  They also won the prestigious Queen's Award for Innovation.  Perhaps the biggest recognition of them all is that the Glencairn Glass is used by every single whisky company in Scotland and Ireland. 


The glass is not expensive; I bought a few online at approximately $7 a piece from Amazon.  At that price, if you are a true scotch lover, you owe it to yourself to at the very least give the glass a try to see whether you like it.  I know I do. 

Keep it classy, my friends.