Whisky abuse

Photo credit to Baskerville, here we are provided with a graphic depiction of whisky abuse.

A uber-short whisky primer, i.e. a good excuse for poor grammar and bullet points:

  • Whisky is spelled "whisky" unless you only drink American spirits in which case it's "whiskey" or "bourbon".
  • To be called "bourbon" a spirit must be (a) made in the US (b) made from least 51% corn, and (c) aged in new barrels.
  • If you're going to put anything (soda/pop, juice, lemon/honey, etc) in a whisky, use a blended: a single malt would be a waste.
  • Not all blended whiskies are necessarily crap - good ones do exist, don't pretend that Famous Grouse or Jamison should be lumped together with Johnnie Walker red/black.
  • When a blended whisky has a statement of its age, in Scotland each component spirit in the mix must be AT LEAST as old as the listed age, but in the US that age only refers to the minimum age of the "straight" whisky used in the blend (which must be >20% of the total), with the rest of the "whiskey" being neutral spirit filler.
  • One major element of a whisky's flavor is the presence/absence of smoke & peat. These factors are introduced when the malt is dried under peat fires. Islay whiskies, from the Western part of Scotland, tend to be the peatiest, while Speyside whiskies are generally smoke-free.

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"O Whisky! soul o' plays and pranks! Accept a bardie's gratfu' thanks! When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks Are my poor verses! Thou comes-they rattle in their ranks, At ither's a-s!" Robert Burns - "Scotch Drink" 1785

2 thoughts on “Whisky abuse”

  1. I've been drinking more lately. Maybe three drinks a year instead of just one!

    The point though is that I've been accumulating various Whisky, Whiskey, and Bourbon bottles. (Don't forget too that Ryes and Canadian Whiskys are basically the same process.) I have a 12-year-old Glenlivet single malt and one or two medium-good blends and a few bottles of American stuff... and the result is that I'm just not a big fan of any of them. Especially the peaty ones just make me think that I'm trying to drink cardboard.

    On the other hand, I'm finding that there's some real beauty in Gins and Rums. There's one that's made in Portland, OR, called "Aviator Gin" that's pretty amazing: smooth and flavorful. (Fairly cheap too!)

  2. Wow, slow down there cowboy, might want to increase more gradually, 2 this year and then up to three in 2012?

    And yes, Ryes/Canadian shouldn't have been ignored, but I wasn't looking for an exhaustive post. Bourbon is tricky one for me b/c I enjoy good bourbon and love a mint julep, but I saturate on the corn-y flavor pretty quickly.

    Can't blame you for not enjoying the peat. You might want to consider are adding maybe 1/8 tsp of water per shot of whisky, but that's more for cask-strength spirits to open them up, not suppress the peat. Glenlivet is a nice "light" option... but the fact is, if you don't like whisky, don't waste your time on it, esp if you have other options. I've been meaning to try Aviator but every time I've been in PDX recently there's been too much going on.

    While down in the BVI last May we picked up some micro-distillery pure-cane-juice rum that is quite nice. Any chance the Pausts could make a trip down to SD? I still have some left and would be happy to share.

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