Just as the name suggests, all Scotch Whisky (don’t confuse it with Irish Whiskey or Bourbon Whiskey) originated in Scotland. The majority of whiskies are the product of a single distillery, however Scotch Whisky is a blend of distilleries and can be divided into two categories: Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Single Grain Scotch Whisky
How best to enjoy a good Scotch – The distilleries have done the blending for you! Enjoy the best Scotch on its own. Serving with ice should be avoided as flavors and aromas are instantly killed, your taste buds will be numbed and limits the flavor of the whisky.
Canadian Whiskey is a whiskey produced in Canada made generally with a blend of grains including corn, wheat and rye for flavor. They are generally lighter and smoother than other whisky styles, however the best Canadian whiskey has a hint of the spicy, bitter-sweet character of rye, lightened with the blending spirit. Canadians still tend to order a “rye” and are typically served a Canadian Whiskey even though most have only a small amount of rye in the ingredient list.
Try your favorite Canadian Whisky “neat” – just a splash of water and maybe a squeeze of lemon! Vodka
The very first identifiable vodka is said to have appeared in the 8th Century in Poland, however it wasn’t until the 14th Century in Russia that the Vodka we now know truly became apparent. Vodka will have been distilled to a high strength then filtered through charcoal to remove impurities before bottling. Vodka requires a form of starch or sugar to be created which is typically found in the form of wheat, rye, potato or grapes. Generally, there are three styles of Vodka:
Eastern Style – those from Russia and Poland tend to have more character and alcohol seems harsher.
Western Style – smooth and neutral, making them ideal for cocktails
Flavored Vodka – These may be made with flavorings such as cranberry, blueberry and root beer.
Rum has a colorful history since it’s been used as medicine, a commodity for trade and at times stood in for currency. Rum has its roots in the Caribbean Islands and was first devised by the Spanish with their vast source of sugarcane plantations.
Most rum is made from molasses which is a by-product of sugarcane. Light rum tends to have a short fermentation which makes them slightly sweet and perfect for mixing. Dark rum is usually fermented longer and produces a richer spirit. All rum is clear after fermentation but Dark rum gets its color from aging in barrels or having caramel and sugar added. A rum rising in popularity is Spiced rum which gets much of its flavor from herbs and spices that steep into the rum.
The most popular way to enjoy a Rum is the classic “rum and coke”; which many people may not know is technically called a Cuba Libre when topped with a lime.
Tequila production is considered a fine art in Mexico and is increasingly popular worldwide. The base material for Tequila is the Blue Agave. As with all spirits, there are levels of quality and classifications. Tequila has four:
Silver (blanco) – produced in stainless steel and aged for less than
60 days. Normally used in fruit-based drinks and cocktails.
Gold – almost always a ‘mixto’ that has been colored with caramelized sugar pulp.
Reposado (‘rested’) – aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two months, they gain complexity, color and a smooth texture. Mexico’s most popular tequila style.
Añejo (‘old’) – aged in barrels for 18 months to three years for ‘mixto’ ( if it doesn’t say 100% agave, it’s a mixto tequila) and up to four years for 100% agave..
Gin is a distilled neutral spirit that gets its distinct flavor from Juniper berries and an assortment of herbs and spices like anise, lime peel, saffron and many more. The spirit base of Gin is usually a grain like wheat or rye which gives it the light body. Gin makers have their own secret combination of herbs and spices which can range from four to over fifteen. Gin is gaining popularity with the revival of classic cocktails like the Gin and Tonic and the ever famous “shaken, not stirred” martini.