What is whiskey? - 2021

What is whiskey?

El whiskey has become all over the world the typical drink for "class" men. It is one of the noblest and most natural distillates made and is the most widespread spirit drink: there is no country where it is not consumed.

It is the national drink of Scotland, where it is often referred to simply as "Scotch", the fruit of barley, the crystal clear waters of its rivers, its troubled lands and its fresh air. The whiskey is dry on the palate, amber in color and, on average, its alcohol content ranges between 40 and 55o.

The production of whiskey in Scotland stems from various traditions that were introduced by Saint Patrick from Ireland in the XNUMXth century BC. The expression whiskey is originally derived from the Gaelic word "uisge beata", meaning "water of life", which was transforming over the years: then it was “fuisce” and finally “whiskey”.

There are many countries that produce brandy with the name whiskey, which covers all kinds of preparations. But whatever the result of the different attempts and searches, none has been able, until now, to match the delicate and characteristic taste of the original whiskey. To differentiate it from the "authentic" whiskey made in other areas is written with an "e".

Although, as the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language "Modern commercial use distinguishes between Scotch whiskey and that made in other countries by their spelling with or without e", it is a conventionalism, because the spellings are highly variable.

Whiskey is a distillate made from the distillation of cereal must (usually barley malted with peat), water and yeast. Current British legislation says that the expression whiskey or whiskey means that they are spirits that have been distilled from a soak of cereals that have been:

  • Slaughtered by the malt diastase contained in them, with or without other natural enzymes
  • Fermented by the action of yeasts
  • Distillates with an alcohol content of less than 94,8%, in such a way that the distillate has an aroma and flavor derived from the materials used and that have aged in wooden barrels in the cellar for a period of no less than three years
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Today a distinction is made between Scotch, Irish, Canadian, bourbon and primitive malt whiskey. They all follow the same manufacturing procedures, but they do not use the same ingredients: malted barley, unmalted barley, rye, corn or mixtures of these materials.

Its main components (in proportion) are water and alcohol, and some acids such as acetic, butyric and formic. But the main components from the point of view of the bouquet are the higher alcohols (esters, aldehydes and furfural), to which the volatile acids must be added. It also has tannins that the wooden barrel gives it, which generally has a capacity equal to or less than 700 liters.

At the end of the distillation process, malt whiskey has an alcohol content of 70º, reduced with pure water to 63,5º. It is transferred to oak barrels for aging for 10 years, losing 2,5º and one degree per year for the next nine. After this time, the liquor has 52º, which for its bottling and commercialization are reduced to the 43º allowed by law.

Once bottled, whiskey never loses its richness. In a bottle that is kept hermetically closed, the whiskey does not change, since the oxygen from the air cannot reach it and, therefore, there is no further aging.

Whiskey is a drink that offers many possibilities to taste, in addition to being an effective and recognized digestive. It can be taken alone, shaved with water or with ice, as an aperitif or quietly in the afternoon.

After a meal it is a delight for the most adept gourmet. Once the whiskey has been served in the glass and in reference to its transparency, this depends on the level of filtration (cold) that was applied prior to bottling.

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To preserve the maximum aromas and maintain the structure, some distilleries avoid all filtration, so that some bottles may have sediments (such as wines); other distilleries avoid this formation by performing moderate filtrations. The presence of sediment is not a defect, but is the testimony that it contains all the elements (essential oils, etc.) that give body, consistency, roundness, aromas and bouquet to this golden drink.

The ideal option to enjoy when tasting whiskey is a preferably small, tulip-shaped glass. A good way to savor it is to take a small amount in your mouth and spread it all over your tongue to better appreciate its bouquet.

The glass should never be heated, since the lighter aromas would evaporate and the heavier aromas would be preserved, therefore, the serving temperature is of vital importance, the ideal being between 15 and 17 ºC. For those who prefer to drink whiskey in a smooth way, a good option is to lower it with a little water, between 5 and 10%, in this way it becomes more pleasant and its aromas open considerably.

This alcohol is also used in many cocktails, including collins whiskey, whiskey sour and bourbon sour. In kitchen It is used in various recipes with chicken and marine mollusks, especially, and some connoisseurs prefer it to cognac and armagnac for flambé.

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