Whisky is a dark spirit made from fermented grain mash and typically aged in wooden casks. Whisky’s are often rich and diverse in flavour and generally considered an acquired taste due to the high alcohol content and sometimes confronting tastes. For maximum appreciation of a fine whisky all that you will need is a good glass (tulip shape are best) and perhaps a dash a water. The addition of ice is not really recommended as it can hide the subtleties of flavour and mixing it with cola is considered a definite no-no by the whisky elite.
There are subtle differences depending on which country the whisky is produced in, but all have stringent laws that relate to ingredients, ageing and the distillation process.
Whisky – everywhere else
Malt whisky – made from malted barley
Blended whisky – made from mixture of whiskies from various distilleries
Single malt – made from a single distillery and a particular malted grain
American whiskey – many regulations that apply to whiskey, ingredients and distillation process. Bourbon whiskey is a popular variant, as is Tennessee whiskey (similar to bourbon but filtered through charcoal)
Japanese – an emerging player with a style similar to Scotch whisky
Irish – normally triple distilled and must be aged in wooden casks for no less than 3 years
Scotch – the most famous whisky producers, generally distilled twice and must be aged for a minimum 3 years in oak casks. 5 main regions – Highland, Lowland, Islay, Speyside & Campbelltown
Australia – emerging area, with Tasmania recognised as producing some of the world’s best whisky.
Rum is a spirit produced from fermented sugarcane and comes in both light and dark variants. The lighter versions are generally used in cocktails (try a Mojito – recipe here) and mixing, whilst the darker, aged versions can be enjoyed neat. Traditionally rum from the West Indies was popular across the globe and in Australia brands such as Bundaberg are synonymous with rum production. More recently there has been an emergence in the spiced rum category with brands such as Sailor Jerry appealing to a new market of rum drinker.
Australia has an interesting history with rum as it was used as currency in the early colony instead of coins. Rum was also involved in a military take over of the Australian government when William Bligh become governor during the Rum Rebellion and attempted to rid the colony of drunkenness by outlawing the use of rum as currency. The locals didn’t take too kindly to this type of behaviour and soon overthrew him!
Vodka is a white spirit, typically made by distilling grains or potatoes and originated in Eastern Europe. Traditionally vodka was drunk neat, but it is most famously known as a mixer in various cocktails. More recently there has been a trend towards producing vodka with flavours added, such as Raspberry & Lemon/Lime. Some of our favourites include:
White or Black Russian
Gin is a white spirit that is made by distilling grains such as corn and derives its flavour from juniper berries. Traditionally it was used for its medicinal qualities and has seen a resurgence lately as a new generation discovers the wonders of gin. Try it neat with a slice of cucumber.