The 3DC Welcomes you. • Don’t you tell me Grape Juice is better ya little prat, it’s the Juice of the Barley for me!
KWAR – 20063DCWhisky & Whiskey Seminar Primary presenter: Erasmus “Raz” MacBaine Assisted by: Seamus and Fergus
In the Beginning, Adam was dry (Poor Adam, and him with only Eve to talk to as well.) • History • The origins of Whiskey are murky at best. Largely because the ancient Celts were much more interested in killing each other than developing a written language capable of documenting their every day life and booz’n habits. Legend has it that what became Whiskey as we generally know it today traveled to Ireland just before all the snakes left (by St. Patty don’t you know?) sometime in 5th century • More likely however, is that European monks imported the “water of life” to Ireland along with the “word of god” sometime back in the 11th to 12th century • In 1494 the first officially documented, uncontested, reference concerning the distillation of whisky. From the Scottish Exchequer Rolls: "Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aquavitae"
In 1505, the Guild of Surgeon Barbers in Edinburgh was granted a monopoly over the manufacture of aqua vitae • When King James the IV of Scotland visited Dundee in 1506, the treasury accounts record a payment to the local barber for a supply of aqua vitae for the king's pleasure and other records for the purchase of aquavitae during his visit to Inverness later that same year • In the 1530s Henry VIII “fired” all the Catholic monks in England so these newly unemployed monks went into business for themselves doing what Tudor monks did best, make aquavitae • in 1577 Raphael Holinshed in his “Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland” wrote of the spirit: “truly it is a sovereign liquor if it be orderly taken.”
One of the earliest references to ‘uiskie’ occurs in the funeral account of a Highland laird about 1618. • 1707 brought true and proper taxation to Scotland with Scotland’s incorporation into the English Empire. So of course smugglers got busy making and selling whiskey right under the nose of the English tax collectors, with the help of all the locals of course • So prevalent was the illegal whisky trade that in the 1700s Edinburgh had 8 legal distilleries and over 400 illegal ones which was nothing compared to the highlands, where between 1816 and 1820 over 14,000 illegal stills were discovered
1791 is the year of our very first tax in the United States of America. This was introduced by Alexander Hamilton… On Whisky of course. This was done to support the local Bourbon producers against the ready supply of whiskies from Europe • The 1820s marks the first time that Whisky is aged in barrels. Up till this point you could think of it as basically like tea, but with moonshine substituted for water… • In 1822 King George IV declared that whisky from the town of Glenlivet was his favorite and ordered that it be used for all official toasts in Scotland. The irony of this was that there was not even one legal distillery in Glenlivet at that time • Starting in 1850s Queen Victoria fell in love with the Scottish libation (now that the whole “how to age it in a barrel” thing was figured out) and then introduced it to London High Society and the popularity exploded from there
What’s in a name? An Islay by any other name would still kick you to the floor. • Uisge-beatha or Usquaebach = Gaulic / Gaelic for Water of Life • Whiskey = The category level word • Whisky = Same as above but from Scotland proper • Scotch = Same as above but aged a minimum of 3 years, by law • Bourbon = Sour mash whiskey made in the Bourbon county, KY area
Types of whiskey • Malt = Made from raw malted barley • Single Malt = Blend of malt whiskies from one distillery • Vatted (or Married) Malt = Blend of malt whiskies from multiple distilleries, otherwise same as above. • Pure Malt or Blended Malt (new terms) = Same as “Vatted Malt” abovebut new terminology • Blend = Blended whiskeys from multiple distillery malts & usually including a variety of grains as well • Single Cask or Vat = Whiskey from one cask or production run, no blending, may or may not be a malt • Grain = Made from raw grains (usually includes some barley) • Sour Mash Bourbon = Made from at least 51% corn with other grains and sugars filling the remainder • Rye Whiskey = Made from at least 51% rye grain with other grains and sugars filling the remainder
A few comments on the new confusion of words… • For some inexplicable reason the marketing departments of a few distilleries and distributors got a bug up their collective hind ends and decided to come up with some new terminology for us all. These are new words for things we already had good and concise terms for. These new tags are occasionally oxi-moronic sounding and at their best confusing to the average drinker of Whiskies. (That indeed may have been the reason for their invention, if you believe the conspiracy theorists anyway. Jim Murray instructs us to say “Bullocks” to the whole bloody thing and I’ll do what Jim tells me to do)
Rex amongst these new confusing terms is an instituted change from “Vatted Malt” to “Blended Malt”. This new term with “Blended” in it would lead the uninitiated though logical Whisky drinker to think it was likely made with a variety of grains, but the then you have “Malt” which would indicate that it is from all barley. See why this may cause some grief? • Further confusing matters is “Pure Malt” that has been put forth as an alternate to “Blended Malt”. I would assume when reading this term, and did, that this is a kin to Single Malts which are made from nothing but pure malted barley, but instead signifies that this is a vatted malt whisky from multiple distilleries. What part of “Pure” would lead you to “multiple distilleries”? What was wrong with “Vatted Malt Whisky” anyway? • Many enthusiasts and industry professionals are rejecting these new terms outright and keeping to the original “Vatted Malt” term. Again, I for one reject the new terminology on mass. • These aren’t the only misguided new terms, just the most egregious to me personally.
“You are only as young as you feel”Ages, Years and Numbering Systems • For bottles marked with an age • This signifies the youngest whiskies that can be blended into the whole • For bottles marked with a year • This signifies the actual year bottled • No inference to “age” as above can be made unless specifically stated on the bottle as well • For un-marked (age or year) bottles • These can be any age or year of bottling • Scotch must be 3 years minimum in the cask on Scottish soil • Whiskeys from other countries are most always at least 3 years in the cask but not necessarily regulated as such and not necessarily kept in the same location either • For sequentially numbered bottles • This signifies a limited run of a special bottling, casking or vatting • Once the last bottle from the run is consumed you will likely never taste another just like it again
How it’s made, the single malt way • Malt whiskey • The barley is soaked and allowed to germinate • Then it’s kiln dried, many distilleries add peat to the fire during this stage to impart a peatiness • Ground into a “grist” (course flour) • Warm water is mixed in (The mix is called the “sparge”) • Then deposited into the “Mash tun” (a large stainless steel or copper vessel) • The fermentable sugars and grist are dissolved (the liquid is called the “wort”)
Wort is placed in the “washback” (A large wooden vessel, usually of pine, Douglas fir or larch) • Yeast is added to facilitate the fermentation (after fermentation the liquid is now called the “wash”) • The wash is placed into the “wash still”, the first of 2 types of pot stills • Heat is added vaporizing the alcohol
The vapor rises up the neck of the still and out through the worm coils (the coils are cooled with water condensing the vapor back into a liquid. The reconstituted liquid is now call the “low wines”) • The low wines are transferred to the “spirit still” (a still designed to mix the vapors) • The still shape is said to affect the flavors, a short neck giving more intense flavors and larger neck imparting gentler and more refined flavors • Heat is added vaporizing the alcohols for a second time and condensing in coils as before • Only the heart (central 1/3rd) of the vapors are used. The remainder is recycled into the process (The collected liquor can now be called a “spirit”)
The spirit is placed in casks for aging • Many barrel types are use to significant effect on the flavor of the whiskey • New, charred, oak barrels • Sherry barrels • Bourbon barrels • Other types are also used such as rum or port to varying effect • The casks are then warehoused
How it’s made, the other way • Grain Whiskey • The grain is cooked under pressure to release the fermentable sugars rather than as is done in the malting process • The product is put into the mash tun and fermented as above • The wash is placed the first column (called the “analyzer” column) of a “two column” still (aka: continuous still, coffee still or just a column still) • Heat has already been applied as the processing is continuous • The wash cascades down over copper plates • Rising steam strips the alcohol from the wash in vapor form • The vapor then condenses in the second column ( called the “rectifying” column) • The liquor is then aged as is done in the malting process
Earth, Wind & Fire and other influential groups or Other impacts on flavor: • The four elements make all the difference • Air and atmosphere during distillation and again to greater effect together with temperature while aging in the casks • Fire during the distillation process can add to the smokiness • Water during the entire process after grinding the grist • Earth by way of the water and the peat and wood used to stoke the fires during distillation and while drying the malt
Highlands • The most prolific region and arguably the most popular • Wide range of tastes including peat, brine, smoke and Usually smooth • Speyside • A sub-region of the Highlands but significant in it’s distinction from other Highlands. Very popular and quite prolific region • Sweet, delicately complex some with a refined smokiness some with fruity finishes • Islay (pronounced “Eye-la • From the Island of the same name. Gives the Highlands a run at most popular • Challenging, Peat, briny, smoke and sometimes a tinge of salty seaweed • A rare exception to the harsh nature of Islays is Bunnahhain • Skye and Orkney • As above, from the islands of name. • Similar in character to the Islays but tending to be softer on the pallet. • The Peat on the Orkneys is from heather imparting a honey like flavor
Lowlands • The rarest of all Scotch as this region no longer boasts the copious number of distilleries as it once did. • Soft, smooth and mild. Little of the peat and brine of the Highland malts • Campbeltown • A peninsula in the South of Scotland. Also rare, though this also use to be a prolific region • Slightly briny but not as aggressive as the Islay malts • Irish • Malts are not as popular as Scotch malts but this is a developing malting region its blends are quite popular • Distinguished by the un-malted barley used along with malted barley • Smooth, complex and frequently with some fruity flavor • Once known for peated whiskies, this is rarely done now • Canadian • Known for blends but there is at few single malt (Kenloch, Glenora & Okanagan) making to the market in Halifax.
Bourbon • From the Bourbon County, KY area of the US • Sour, sweet and smoky • American, not from the Bourbon County area • Many are quite new to the market place • Japanese • New to the market place in the grand scheme of things • About as average mixing of the above flavors (excepting sour) as could be achieved (Judged by the one I’ve had, Suntori.) • Others: Pretty much the rest of the globe • Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Germany, India, Latvia, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Wales
Tasting, do’s and don’ts • Cleansing the pallet • Do: • Black coffee is recommended by Jim Murray (referred to as “JM” elsewhere in this presentation) of the whiskey bible • Good quality unsalted crackers are recommended by Anthony Dias Blue of the Complete Book of Spirits • Water taken between different drams can be helpful • Semi Sweet or other bitter chocolate is also recommended by some • Don’t: • Cheese tends to confuse the pallet and should be avoided • Sweets • Strong lingering flavors of any kind
To add a drop (of water) or not to add a drop, that is a damn good question; not to mention about as contentious a subject as the whole Mac vs. PC thing. • The argument for adding water is that when you add a drop or splash (depending on who you talk to) of water to whiskey, the flavors “blossom” and the full complexity of the whiskey can be detected. I have done this and it does work. • The argument against water is, as championed by Jim Murray of the Whiskey Bible, simply put that; For it to be whiskey the beverage must be at least 80° proof, so why would you go an add water and make the Whisky you just paid good money for not Whisky anymore? Further, you can achieve a very similar “blossoming” effect by simply warming your whiskey with your hands by cupping the glass. I have also used this technique and it works as well.
Recommendations for your own personal tasting: • Do: • Limit the number of whiskies to 4-6. Jim Murray espouses that a whisky tasting just isn’t worth it unless you’ve 10-15 on the table. I’ve been to one of his tastings, 12 whiskies in under 2 hours. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the last 4 we had • If you are going to put 30 different bottles on your table, spitting is encouraged. I know it sounds like a sin, but if you ever make it to the grand tasting at the World Whisky Expo in San Francisco, you’ll learn to spit, end up in a hospital or miss ¾ of what is on offer
The right type of glass is very helpful. A good glass will help you properly nose the libation and warm it for taste should that be your preference • A proper whiskey tasting glass is usually round at the bottom and constricted towards the top or tall and thin to hold the vapors and aromas. • Thistle shaped glasses are now getting more common on the market, in our opinion, these are the best. • Riedel makes a good traditional tall glass • A brandy snifter is also fairly good choice in a pinch but not what I’d recommend for a purchase. This is generally what I end up drinking from when I’m in a typical bar setting. (A good pub will have the right glass for each type of drink though they usually won’t pull them out unless you ask, so ask.)
Tasting how to’sMuch like wine in concept… 1. Pick up your glass and examine the color 2. Gently swirl the liquid about to get an idea of its viscosity and admire the “legs” 3. Cup the glass in both hands, one over the top of the glass trapping the vapors, and hold it close to your heart for a few moments to warm the liquid. 4. Remove the covering hand and pause for a few seconds. Note: This is a safety procedure. When you warmed the whiskey in the glass you released both ethanol vapor and aromas. The ethanol will rush out before the aromas so pausing will save you from inhaling pure ethanol which would be “bad”. 5. Nose the dram. Go ahead an just stick your nose right down inside the glass and give a good long whiff or two. Some prefer to make two goes at this. One at the edge of the glass and the second right down in there. 6. Take a mouthful and move it around in your mouth making sure you hit all the taste zones and swallow or spit as occasion merits. Jim Murray would have you make “the fish face”. (This must be shown. Words to not quite capture it. If you ask real nice maybe Fergus can show you.) 7. Linger a moment and pay close attention to the finish.
Bowmore 12 - Islay • Distillery founded in 1779 in the middle of the island. Water comes runs through iron tinged rock, moss, ferns and rushes. Brief peating of the malt
Bowmore 12 - Islay • Distillery founded in 1779 in the middle of the island. Water comes runs through iron tinged rock, moss, ferns and rushes. Brief peating of the malt • Rating JM: 85 / MJ : 87 • Tasting notes from MJ: • Color: Amber • Nose: Salt, seaweed • Palate: Sherry sweetness, spice, heather, seaweed, salty with a developing flavor story • Finish: long and salty
Glenrothes Reserve Select – Speyside(Non-Vintage, released to market in 2006) • Distillery founded in 1879 beside the Burn of Rotes. Water comes “The Lady’s Well” where the Earl of Rothes daughter is said to have been killed by the “Wolf of Babenoch” while attempting to save her lover’s life.
Glenrothes Reserve Select – Speyside(Non-Vintage, released to market in 2006) • Distillery founded in 1879 beside the Burn of Rotes. Water comes “The Lady’s Well” where the Earl of Rothes daughter is said to have been killed by the “Wolf of Babenoch” while attempting to save her lover’s life. • Rating JM: NR / MJ : NR – New malt • Tasting notes from www.novusvinum.com: • Color: Honey Gold • Nose: Fruit and flowers • Palate: Spice and fruit, hint of orange zest • Finish: Light spice lingers
Sheep Dip 8 Pure Malt- Highland(…mostly. Actually blended of malts from all 4 regions.) • Not a distillery. Richard Paterson, Scotland’s renowned and only third generation master blender created the Sheep Dip “vatting” by marrying together several single malt whiskies. “Sheep Dip” is the traditional name given to Whisky in the Oldbury on Severn area of Scotland. Legend has it that the name was to confuse the tax collectors or wives of local farmers and thus avoiding undue feminine complications or liability.
Sheep Dip 8 Pure Malt- Highland(…mostly. Actually blended of malts from all 4 regions.) • Not a distillery. Richard Paterson, Scotland’s renowned and only third generation master blender created the Sheep Dip “vatting” by marrying together several single malt whiskies. “Sheep Dip” is the traditional name given to Whisky in the Oldbury on Severn area of Scotland. Legend has it that the name was to confuse the tax collectors or wives of local farmers and thus avoiding undue feminine complications or liability. • Rating JM: 84 / MJ : NR • Tasting notes from MJ / http://www.thedrinkshop.com: • Color: Rich, golden copper highlights • Nose: Delicate, floral, fruity, hint of almond • Palate: Malt, cut grass, spice • Finish: long and salty
Knappogue Castle 1994 - Irish • Not a distillery. An American in the 1960s bought and restored Knappogue Castle and began purchasing hand selected casks of single malts from Ireland and bottling them as vintage runs. Like wine, whiskies from this bottler will vary dramatically with the conditions of each distillation year. The 1994 is rated as the second highest by JM in the companies history. The year is the year distilled, not bottled.
Knappogue Castle 1994 - Irish • Not a distillery. An American in the 1960s bought and restored Knappogue Castle and began purchasing hand selected casks of single malts from Ireland and bottling them as vintage runs. Like wine, whiskies from this bottler will vary dramatically with the conditions of each distillation year. The 1994 is rated as the second highest by JM in the companies history. The year is the year distilled, not bottled. • Rating JM: 95 • Tasting notes from MJ: • Color: Light gold • Nose: Complex, starts with Fresh cut grass, zesty lemon then slightly floral • Palate: Soft sweet malt to start, then barley, oak and an overall bitter sweetness • Finish: Barley, oak with soft spice. Some cocoa notes advancing years
Sláinte! • For more, please seek out: • Books: • The Whiskey Bible – Jim Murray • Alcoholica Esoterica – Ian Lendler • Whisky Companion – Helen Arthur • The Complete book of Spirits – Anthony Dias Blue • Malt Whisky – Michael Jackson • On line: • www.3drunkencelts.com • http://www.whiskyfun.com/index.html • http://whisky.com/history.html • http://www.smwsa.com/links.html