Scotland is home to ancient clans, tartan, and the most fascinating accent ever. But its flagship is undoubtedly their wonderful Whisky, simply called Scotch (which is, unsurprisingly, a synonym for Scottish).
Scotch, the golden potion that makes the world go around, is both simple and complex: it’s simply the best, and complex in its genesis and flavors. Now, the blockbuster is the Single Malt, a spectacular single-distillery Spirit made from malted barley (soaked, germinated, and dried to get the most sugar for the buck), created in six regions of Scotland: The Highlands (oakey-smokey), the Lowlands (gentle’n’non-peaty), Speyside (sweet, no peat), the Islands (briny & peaty), and the Campbeltown (light OR peaty).
Scotch is like the Queen – Freddie, not Lizzie – the same band but incredibly different albums. Quality and variety is exactly why Scotland is the Michael Jordan of Whiskies with its 5 billion dollar behemoth industry, dwarfing even tourism and IT. And the golden era of Pax Scotcha is far from being over as it’s expanding and getting even more popular with both the lavish limited expressions and adventurous no-age-statement experiments.
This box has a mission: prove once again why Scotch is the Emperor of Whiskies – a Scotchus Rex, if you will. One Highlander, one Speysider and a wild card from Islay represent the zenith of Scottish liquid gold.
1) The term "Whisky" comes from the Gaelic "uisgebeatha", which means "water of life". The medieval folks called the Spirits "aqua vitae" and the French call them "l’eau de vie", which means the same thing.
2) G. B. Shaw called Whisky "liquid sunshine" and his compatriot J. Joyce found the "music of Whisky falling into glasses" an "agreeable interlude".
3) Single malts have been around for ages, but while the general population drank blends, distilleries gave sample drams to their employees and the locals to see which batches were better. Glenfiddich put their first Single Malt on the market in 1963 and the Don Drapers persuaded everyone that Single Malt is the way to go.
4) Whisky distilling goes way back to 1494 when the first recorded batch was made by a posse of monks who acquired about 60 gallons of barley and decided to turn it into "aqua vitae". They created the first 1,500 bottles of Scotch in History.
5) Scotch is made in five steps: malting, mashing, fermenting, distilling, and maturing. Malting means turning starch into sugar through germination. Mashing is adding hot water to hasten the process, and fermentation is when living yeast eats those sugars and produces alcohol and congeners, a side product that contributes to the flavor. Distilling is separating alcohol from water, yeast and residues. Maturing occurs in oak casks and is crucial for the flavor. Scotch must be aged at least three years, by law.
6) The GlenAllachie, Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich, Glenfarclas, The Glenlivet, etc. What the glen does "glen" mean? It stands for "valley" and it’s not a coincidence: distilleries tend to be situated in valleys near a water source instead of on a mountain. And Scotland is chock-full of valleys.
What's in the box
Dog Dogson'sSmartass corner
90% of all Scotch Whisky released in the market is a blend. That’s a hell of a lot.
Scotch Whisky is seldom aged in new barrels. Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey casks are usually used for maturation. In addition to that, Whisky is often matured or finished in various wine casks such as Sherry or Port.
The only real "official" releases of Benrinnes as a single malt is a 15YO, issued as part of the "Flora and Fauna" range -- part of a larger coordinated strategy by various distillers in Scotland -- and a 21YO issued as a part of the "Rare Malt" promotion.
William Delmé-Evans built the distillery. He also built the Isle of Jura, and Tullibardine Distilleries.
Whisky or Whiskey? The spelling differs geographically. In Scotland, Japan, and some other parts of the world, distilleries usually spell it Whisky; in Ireland and the USA, they spell it Whiskey.
Single Malt Scotch Whisky is made in Scotland using a pot still distillation process at a single distillery, with malted barley as the only grain ingredient. It must be matured in oak casks in Scotland for at least three years (most Single Malts are matured longer, though).