If you are an alcohol connoisseur or just a beginner who is starting to experiment, whisky is one of the most loved spirits. A whisky lover would take a lot of pride in knowing what goes into their drams, just like me. If you would ask me, whisky-making is an art that takes years to master. I just don’t love my elixir but won’t be afraid to shoot down (not literally) those who think otherwise.
The most important thing that I learned when I started my journey of experimenting with liquors was the difference between ‘whisky’ and ‘whiskey’ and how they are not the same.
To understand it better, I got in touch with Zaheen Khatri, brand ambassador, Grants India. “Irish Distillers started spelling the alcohol differently in the late 1800s to differentiate their Whiskey from Scotland’s Whisky. During that period, Irish whiskey was quite popular in the US, so American distillers took their approach, and the alternative spelling stuck. So, the spelling you choose depends on where the whisky comes from. If the dram is made in Ireland or the United States, it’s spelled “whiskey”. In other parts of the world, it’s spelled “whisky”. The plurals also change — whisky becomes whiskies, while whiskey becomes whiskeys,” Khatri tells.
Also read: Importance of food while having a glass of whisky
Ajay Nayyar, Diageo’s brand ambassador further explained, “The spelling of the word Whisk(e)y gives a good indication of where in the world that spirit was produced. While there are exceptions to the rules, whisky (no E) largely indicates Scotch and spirit produced in regions that have followed the Scottish way of whisky production such as Japan, Canada, Australia, and of course India. Whereas whiskey (with an E) generally refers to American and Irish Whisky. Irish producers first began introducing the E in the 19th century as a way to differentiate themselves from Scottish producers, and America followed suit due to the perception that Irish whiskey was more premium at the time.”
The simplest way of understanding this is that the countries with an “e” in their name used the “Whiskey” spelling. However, now that France, England, and Germany are all making ‘Whisky’, this rule has become obsolete.
The difference in spelling impacts the taste and colour
If you are wondering if that impacts the taste of the drink, then the answer is ‘yes’. If you’d taste a Scotch (whisky) that would taste completely different from an Irish whiskey and that is because each variety follows a specific distillation process and raw materials. It’s not the spelling that changes the taste but the manufacturing process. For instance, blended scotch fuses various types of single malts with neutral grain spirits. That’s not all, it’s aged for a minimum of three years in oak casks that dictates the aromas of whisky. On the other hand, Irish whisky is made from a fermented mash of cereals (corn, wheat, barley).
“If we look at the spelling as a way to indicate what region the whisk(e)y is produced, then this hugely impacts taste and colour. This is due to the fact that each region has a set of laws and rules that govern whisk(e)y production methods. These rules cover every aspect from which cereal grain is chosen as the raw ingredient, to which barrel can be used for maturation and also minimum times the spirit will age in oak,” Nayyar said.
He added, “These different raw ingredients and production methods will lead to the finished product having different flavour characteristics. For example, American Whiskey (Bourbon) which uses high levels of corn as the raw ingredient will have a sweeter flavour than Scotch Whisky which is made from malted barley. While flavour differences imparted by the raw grain can be subtle in a new-make spirit (unaged spirit), they will be accentuated during the aging process. As for colour, that is imparted entirely by the oak – what type of oak, what the barrel has previously held, and how long the whisk(e)y stays in it will all impact the colour. So, going back to the spelling indicating region, and regions having different laws and rules governing the production, the spelling of whisk(e)y can give a lot of information about what the flavour of the liquid inside the bottle will be.”
Also read: How an Indian start-up ‘Estuary’ is redefining the whisky-tasting experience with its ‘Blending Water’
We all know that there are many types of whisky, or whiskey, based on their provenance. They get their names on the basis of the type of grain used, the method implemented to make it, or the location of production. Scotch, Bourbon, Irish, Tennessee, Canadian, and Japanese are further categorised as rye, single malt, and blended, among other variants.
Mixing coke with whisky is a sin?
For those who feel mixing coke with whisky is a sin, Nayyar said, “Not really, your whisky your money but definitely which whisky? Are you going to mix a spectacular whisky with coke, that could be a sin. But one should mix a whisky with coke that naturally goes together from the flavour point of view. Lagavulin 16 and Coke is an amazing combination as the flavours in Lagavulin which is smoky and peaty marriage works really well with Coke. So, I would say a smoky whisky may be a right fight for this.”
Enough about the spelling, did you know that the shape of the ice also determines the taste of your drink? When the ice melts, it becomes a part of the drink and can disturb the taste, and can reduce some of the stronger flavours. For instance, crushed ice is suitable for tropical drinks, large clear blocks of ice for Highball, spheres for old-fashioned/ Negroni, and cracked ice for stirred cocktails.
A Lady In Red
Dry Gin- 25ml
Sloe Gin- 25ml
Lemon juice- 12.5ml
Egg white (or vegan alternative) -1
Raspberry syrup- 1 bar spoon
Fresh raspberry (to garnish)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and dry shake, add ice and shake again. Double strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a raspberry
2. Collin Punch
London Dry Gin- 50ml
Fresh Apple Juice- 25ml
Sugar syrup- 10ml
Cinnamon syrup- 15ml
Soda water, to top
Redberries and a cinnamon stick (to garnish)
Preparation: Add the first four ingredients to a highball glass filled with ice and stir with a swan stirrer, then top with soda water. Garnish with a handful of red berries and cinnamon sticks.