Let's talk about whisky

Jeroen Steenbeeke  
Posted
People not of legal drinking age, please ignore this post

My bio's pretty clear about the fact that I enjoy drinking Scotch. In fact, I generally enjoy most types of whisk(e)y (more on spelling later), though I tend to favor single malts with age statements. I'm not a heavy drinker (at least, I don't think I am), and usually limit my consumption of alcohol to weekends, drinking only 2 or 3 glasses on an average evening. According to the Oatmeal, I'm probably not a writer then (also, I don't hate myself).

Anyway, whisky is a pretty interesting liquid. The main ingredients are barley, water and yeast, with the option of adding caramel coloring (E150a) before/during the process of bottling. For single malts, these are the only ingredients allowed, and the list of other allowed ingredients is pretty short, limited mostly to various grains. But for such a small list of ingredients, there is an incredible variety of tastes to be found in whisky. This is what I, and many people like me, find so alluring about it.

The reason for this post is because I visited Whisky Weekend Twente (site in Dutch) last Saturday afternoon, a festival that features a large range of whiskies to be tasted, many of them free, some (more exclusive) varieties against a small fee. How many did I have? Why, eleven, my dear reader, to no ill effect other than a significant state of inebriation for the rest of the day.

Whisky or whiskey?


Depends on where it's from. Most countries favor "whisky", the main exceptions being the United States and Ireland, who use "whiskey". I try to be precise in my usage. When I'm referring to Jameson I'll write whiskey, but when I'm referring to Millstone I'll write whisky. But knowing the country of origin isn't always enough, as there are of course deviants.

What did you have?


There seems to be a preference for "peated" whiskies among many of my fellow whisky drinkers. If you're a layman: this means the barley was dried with peatsmoke, which leaves a very distinct smoky taste to the whisky. I am, however, not that big of a fan of peated whiskies. I drink a glass or two on occasion (I still have a bottle of Laphroaig in my closet, and I'm a member of their Friends of Laphroaig club), but I generally go for whisky that is either not peated at all (by BenRiach, Arran, Glendronach, Clynelish or Glenkinchie), or very lightly peated (such as Springbank).

At the Whisky Weekend, about half the whiskies are tasted were from brands I knew, but had never tried the whisky in question (such as BenRiach 12 Horizons, Glengoyne 15 and Arran 18) or whiskies I had never tried before (such as Tomintoul). My favorite was the BenRiach 25 year old (not the Authenticus), but those bottles are ridiculously expensive, so the next bottle I buy will probably be a bit younger than that.