Whisky Types - Whisky Variations

Whisky different bottles

Throughout the last 500 years, whisky received much attention from the innovative brewers from all around the world. From its homeland in Scotland, to the all four corners of the map, many distinctive types and variations of whisky were made. Advancements in the technology gave the manufacturers the ability to control all the aspects of the whisky production - from growing of malt and other grains, to the harvest, preparation, distillation, blending, aging, packaging and transportation. Here are the some of the basic types of whisky, separated in several groups.

Basic Types

  • Malt whisky is made from fermented mash produced almost exclusively from malted barley grain. If a whisky is made only from one type of the grain at a single distillery (not mixed with other products created from the same type of grain), then end product carries the name "single malt whisky". Many countries have strict laws that enforce recipes for creation of malt whisky, most notably Scotland requires every malt whisky to age a minimum of three years.
  • Grain whisky is a whisky that is made by using at least one type of grain other than malted barley. Most common ingredients that are in use today are corn, wheat or rye, and end products created with them often carry the name of their major component (for example "rye malt whisky"). Also, some variations of whisky use both barley and other grains (often called "Blended Scotch Whisky"), and can reach popularity and quality as some of the best single malt whiskies.

Combined Types

  • Single malt whisky represents a whisky that is made from one batch of grain mush and produced in a single distillery. Often it is mixed with other whisky casks to achieve suitable flavor.
  • Single Cask (or single barrel) whisky is made only from the single processed grain mush. No other previously produced whiskies are mixed with it, and in the event of packaging liquid to the bottles, each of those bottles carries specific information about the cask from which it came.
  • Blended malt is made from a single malt gran that was made in several different distilleries.
  • Blended whiskies are made by mixing several types of malt, grain and other additives that impact the flavor of the drink. The vast majority of most popular modern whiskies are made in this way, and the names Scotch, Irish, or Canadian Whisky almost always describe blended mixture.
  • Cask strength is a very potent type of whisky, created to be exceptionally strong. Individual users who buy this product are encouraged to personally dilute the whisky to the point of their satisfaction.

Regional types

  • American comes in several varieties. Most notable are Rye whiskey (made from the mash that consists of at least 51% rye), Corn whiskey (at least 80% corn mash), Malt whiskey (at least 51% malted barley) and Bourbon whiskey (at least 51% corn maize). All of the types mentioned must be distilled to have maximum of 80% alcohol by volume, without of use of any coloring and flavoring additives. Required aging time for American whiskey is 2 years.
  • Scottish whisky is traditionally regarded as best whisky in the world. Majority of them are distilled two times, although some brands go up to twenty. According to the laws, name "Scotch" can be given only to the whisky made in Scotland, and it must age in casks to minimum of three years (although many age it for several decades). Majority of the brewers treat their malt with the peat smoke to give the final product smoky flavor. Five most notable Scottish whisky regions are Highland, Lowland, Islay, Speyside and Campbeltown.
  • Irish whisky is also very highly regarded around the world. Their single malt, single grain, blended whiskey and pure pot still whiskey are also aged 3 years before they are allowed to be sold.
  • English whisky production had its highs and lows over the centuries. After over 100 years of stagnation and the decay of the production at Bristol and Liverpool cities, newly formed whisky brewery started producing whisky in 2006.
  • Australia is one of the big international producers of whisky, especially ones created at the island State of Tasmania.
  • Indian whisky is almost exclusively produced from fermented molasses, which is outside of India often called Rum. Indian production of whisky begun in 1820, and since then they shifted their preference from malted grains to the molasses.
  • German whisky industry became active after 1980s, and during their young lifetime they often copied recipes found in Ireland, Scotland and United States.