Written by Daniel Gonzales
Photography by John Connell
If you’re in Scotland it’s spelled whisky, but better known as Scotch. In Ireland, it’s aptly called Irish whiskey. While their styles may be similar, there are some distinctive differences between the Irish and Scottish drams.
Scotland is home to over 100 distilleries, and is widely known as the grandfather of whisky. To earn the highly coveted “Scotch” label, whisky must be matured in the country for at least three years and in oak casks. Scotch whisky is made in basically three different ways in different parts of the country, and these variations make for a very wide range of style.
1. BLENDED MALT WHISKY:
The ingredients for this type of distillate must contain 100% barley malt whiskies that originate from at least two different single malt distilleries and can only be distilled up to 165 proof.
Dewar’s 12: A very mellow flavor with notes of oak, vanilla, honey. There is a citrus zest on the nose and a rich long finish.
Dewar’s 15: Lighter on the palate than Dewar’s with notes of toffee, coconut, tropical fruits, and vanilla. There are honeysuckle aromas and the finish is subtle, but well-rounded.
2. BLENDED SCOTCH WHISKY: Theses whiskies are among the most commonly drank whiskies around the world and are usually 60-70% neutral grain spirit, 30-40% single malt whiskies, water, and can be distilled in either pot or column stills.
Chivas Regal 12: A blend of many different malt and grain Scotch whiskies, matured for at least 12 years. This rich, smooth blend has caramel and dried fig on the palate with dark honey aromas and an oily nutty Finish.
Haig Club: Categorized as a Single Grain Scotch, it is a blend of different whiskies with a noticeable sweetness on the tongue, notes of custard, butterscotch and holiday spices with aromas of coconut and pineapple, and a short clean finish with traces of fresh oak.
3. SINGLE MALT WHISKY: Largely affected by the region and geography of where the distilleries are in Scotland, the water sources are as important to the flavor profile of the whisky as much as the grain and barrel aging. Single malt whisky must come from one distillery, must be distilled in a single season, and made from 100% malted barley and distilled in pot stills. The vast majority of single malts are distilled two times.
Glenlivet 12: The most popular single malt scotch in the world, and with good reason. The beautiful flavors of light fruits like pineapple and papaya combined with deeper more complex dried fruit sweetness give any consumer a great value and experience.
Auchentoshan 3 Wood: One of the rare triple distilled single malts in Scotland, this libation is aged in Oloroso sherry casks, American oak, and Pedro Ximenez casks before it bottled. On the palate, this Scotch has remarkable cherry and dried raspberry notes with fig and dried fruit undertones. The finish is strong and complex with vanilla and caramel aromas.
Laphroaig Select: This single malt has a classic Islay smokiness and brine on the nose with a surprising sweetness due to the sherry and Pedro Ximenez wood influence. The finish has a long and winding depth due to the different oaks.
THE LUCK OF THE IRISH
Whiskey has been produced in Ireland perhaps since the twelfth century A.D. There is speculation that the concept of Christian monks trained in Salerno, Italy as the prime movers of distillation in Ireland. English invading forces are said to have reported back to King Henry II in the 1170s about how the Scot-Gaels produced a potent liquid made from boiling, which carries the clear implication of distillation.
The Irish are less vocal about their industry’s standards. They allow both pot and continuous stills into their production methods, as well as malted and unmalted barley. As with blended Scotch whisky, adding some grain whiskey to the blend makes for a milder, easier to drink spirit. Triple distillation is a trademark of Irish whiskey, and a different malting process also contributes to its famously smooth character.
Clontarf 1014: Named after a famous battle the Irish faced against the Vikings. Clontarf is a classily bold and smooth Irish whiskey, triple distilled as most Irish whiskies are, then aged in Bourbon barrels and blended just right. The finish is smooth with dark chocolate and vanilla aromas.
Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey: One of the rare peated whiskies in Ireland, Connemara’s smooth and sweet malt flavor is a truly unique Irish whiskey. Aromas of peat and brine dance perfectly with its caramel and butterscotch flavors. The finish leaves distinct smokiness on your palate.
There are three fundamental kinds of Irish whiskey:
-SINGLE MALT WHISKEY:
made from 100 percent malted barley in a pot still in a single distillery.
continuous stills make this light whiskey of wheat or corn
a marriage of single malt and grain