A Noobs Guide to Scotch

Posted: January 13, 2012 by Raul Parra in Beer And Liquor, Columns, Nightlife, Parra's Palliatives
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By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

Get up right now and walk over to where you store your liquor bottles and check out what you have in there.  Half a sip of Jack Daniels?  Pint of Old Grandad? Diet Shasta Orange?  Now take a stroll over to your recycling bin.  Pile of Natty Ice?  Now, take a step back realize you’re almost 30 and you drink like you’re 18.  Don’t worry there’s still time to change your Frat ways.  Why not switch it up and bring some class to your debauchery?  I know what your saying, “Raul, how can I destroy my liver in a way that is fit for a king/queen?”.  Well my thirsty friends here is a rough guide to the first step in buying some of that liquid courage.

This Label… is Making Me Thirsty

The first thing you want to know about Scotch is that it is broken down into five different categories: Single Malt, Single Grain Scotch, Blended Malt Scotch, Blended Grain Scotch and Blended Scotch.  SO… what does this buffoonery mean?

  • Single Malt: A Single Malt Scotch whiskey is the product of one specific distillery and has not been mixed with whiskey from any other distilleries.
  • Single Grain Scotch: A Single grain whiskey is the product of one Grain distillery and is usually made from wheat, corn or un-malted barley.
  • Blended Malt Scotch:  A Vatted Malt will contain a number of malt whiskeys that have been skilfully blended together or “married,” to create a consistent whiskey with its own distinct, identifiable character. Such a malt can also consist entirely of malt whiskies of various ages from the same distillery. However, vatted malts will never contain any grain whiskey.
  • Blended Scotch/Blended Grain Scotch: A blended scotch whiskey may contain a combination of whiskies from over 40 or 50 different malt and grain distilleries. The normal ratio of malt to grain is 60% grain 40% malt. The percentage of malt used will determine the quality and smoothness of taste and character. Each whiskey used in the blending process will normally have been matured for about 5 years, however there are a number of higher aged blended scotch whiskies available.

You Are Where You Come From:

Now if you take a gander over at that lovely Scotch bottle that has magically appeared in your hand, you’re going to see a whole lot words on it’s label.  Some of those words and phrases you will recognize from the above information.  Congratulations, you are now just a teensy wheensy bit smarter.  However,  before your ego takes hold of you or you crack that sucker open, you’re gonna have to do some more them there learnings.

You will see phrases or words like, “Cambletown”, “Highland”, “Island”, “Islay”, “Lowland” and “Speyside” and you’re thinking…. whaaaa?  Relax, these are just the names of the regions in Scotland where your glorious booze is coming from.

OK… Now Tell Me What to Do!:

So now that you know what you’re looking when you’re try to decipher that mysterious label my suggestion to you is to buy a bottle, drink it, read the label carefully and if you like it, take care to pay attention to the characteristics of the whisky.  Develop your tastes buds.  If you have a hunch that you enjoy a Single Malt Scotch.. go for it.  Try other Single Malts and see if they share that same taste profiles.  It’s all in the details, so read those labels carefully.  I’m feeling a little thirsty myself… I’m going to go heed my own advice.

Combining my two favorite things Skyrim and Booze.

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