Whiskey, alternatively spelt as whisky, is a type of distilled dark grain alcoholic beverage made from a fermented mash of cereal grains and typically aged in wooden casks made from charred white oak. The difference in whether it is to be spelt as “whiskey” or “whisky” depends on where it was made. In the USA and Ireland, it is commonly spelt as “whiskey”; in Scotland, Japan, Canada and other parts of the world, it is spelt as ”whisky.”
Whiskeys get their golden brown colour from the ageing or barreling stage when the liquid comes in contact with the wood, and the wood consequently imparts colour and complex flavours to the whiskey. The barreling stage provides a hundred per cent of the whiskey’s hue and about sixty per cent of its flavour.
Variants of Whiskey
Different varieties of whiskey depend on the types of cereal grains used during the moulting process, which could include barley, wheat, rye and corn. Other factors that determine the main differences between the types of whiskeys are the production process, where the whiskey was made and how long it was aged for.
As the name implies, the first distinct feature of this type of whiskey is that it must be made in Scotland. Then for it to be Scotch whisky, it must be made from malted barley or grain and must be aged in oak casks for at least three years. They are also known for their distinctive smoky flavour, which comes from the moulting process of heating over a fire. There are different types of Scotch Whiskies which include;
Single Malt Whisky
It is made using only malted barley, water and yeast.
It is made with the main ingredients being either maize, wheat, or both.
Blended Scotch whisky is made by mixing single malt and single grain whiskies.
This consists of types of whiskies that are made in America, which include;
This is a type of whiskey made in America from malted grains that are made up of at least 51 per cent corn.
This type of bourbon contains no extra flavour or colouring and has been aged for at least two years.
This type of bourbon could include other flavourings and spirits, but it must contain at least 51 per cent of straight bourbon.
This type of whiskey is made from a combination of malted grains that must be at least 51 per cent rye and is primarily made in North America. However, Canadian rye can contain less than that amount of rye.
This is almost the same as the Bourbon, except for including charcoal filtering after the distillation process.
These are whiskies that are made in Ireland. They can be made with any type of cereal grain in any proportion and must be aged for at least three years. There are quite many popular brands and you might need a guide in choosing the best Irish whiskies.
You can also make your own whiskey using a whiskey-making kit.
Because whiskies have an indefinite shelf life, many people decide to leave them out of the fridge. Some even claim it is best taken at room temperature to be able to savour its contents in their original flavour. But just like any other drink, it can be chilled with ice cubes whenever you’re ready. However, melting ice dilutes the whiskey and the flavours so that you can go for whiskey stones instead.
Potential Health Benefits
Even though having an alcoholic beverage and “health benefits” in the same sentence might sound contradictory, you might want to sit tight for this one, as there are potential benefits whiskies could provide. Some of which are;
Relief of Cold Symptoms
Whiskey can temporarily widen your blood vessels and help you clear mucus congestions in your chest and sinuses, which in turn helps your body deal better with infections and could relieve symptoms of cold or flu. It can also help with coughing.
The ellagic acid content of whiskeys reduces bodily inflammation and lowers the risk of obesity.
The high presence of polyphenol helps to reduce the risk of heart disease. It reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol in the body.
Other benefits include immune system support, better brain health, stress reduction, digestive aid etc.
Note that the health benefits of whiskey are associated with taking it in low to moderate quantities, for example, a glass per day or two. Taking too much could result in health issues.