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Whiskey: origin, types and cocktails.

MAGAZINE - Dry Tips

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The pioneers in formalizing the process of distillation were monks.

The origin

Whisky was born in Ireland and its elaboration spread quickly through Scotland. It is, basically, a cereal that distillates and grows in wooden barrels. The pioneers in formalizing the process of distillation were monks. From them, the procedure extended to farmers that started installing homemade still, to produce whiskey.

In these days, whiskey is the most precious product in the hard liquor’s market. Besides being a high quality product, the British decided to spread it throughout the world, with their arrival to Canada and the United States, proliferating numerous distilleries.

Types of Whiskeys

Although Scottish whiskey is the king, there are several types of high quality whiskey:

– The Irish Whisky: Ireland, not only can claim to be the birthplace of whiskey, while owning the oldest distillery (Bushmills, 1608), but they can also be proud of having one of the best whiskeys in the world. Its elaboration and development takes place in pot stills with different sizes and shapes than the ones used in Scotland. In these stills, the Irish distillate whiskey three times, without using peat. Indeed, this whiskey comes from the most natural malted barley, corn and, in less proportion, from other cereals, such as rye, wheat and oat.

The result after its ageing, in the Jerez barrels, is an elegant, well-balanced, brilliant and sophisticated whiskey.

El whisky: origen, tipos y cocktails por Javier de las Muelas

– The Scottish Whisky: it is the most famous one and it has a wide variety of O.D, all them with a distinct personality. In the Scottish culture, we could find, basically, two types of whiskey:  one that uses malt and another one that is composed by grain. The malt elaboration is considered better and more qualified than any other one, due to the cereal and to its double, long and specifically careful distillation. The result is the most exceptional hard liquor.

On the other hand, with grain whiskey, the distillation occurs in only one still and its ageing takes between three and five years.  The mixture of cereals is different and the whole of its production aims an economical product, in which almost every part of it is used to mix with malt whiskeys, obtaining the famous blend (by far the most popular). The ratio is usually a 40% of malt whiskeys and a 60% of  grain whiskeys, although these percentages can change in some occasions. This brings to life an infinite variety of whiskeys. Before being bottled, it is diluted with fresh water from Scottish lochs, to finally be filtered.

El whisky: origen, tipos y cocktails por Javier de las Muelas

-The Canadian Whisky: A light, bright and dry whiskey. It has less body than Scottish malts and a more neutral flavour. Mainly, it is made from rye and corn. The oak barrels, in which it ages from six to eight years, can be new or not.

-The American Whiskey: The first distillate was a variety, named by the Irish emigrants, called rye. In its elaboration, they used rye and, secondly, corn, in less quantity than the first one. This hard liquor used to age for, minimum, one year in new oak barrels, previously burned. As a result, they obtained a rough and a very strong whiskey.

The variety composed by corn, as a main ingredient, was the second in order of appearance. A version of rye, in which corn was the main ingredient and in which oak barrels were used new and not burned.

Bourbon was the last to appear, it was nothing more than an evolution of existing whiskeys. Also made from corn and aged in new and burned barrels. However, it achieved a unique development process that resulted in a more delicate, aromatic and sweet whiskey. This new variety of whiskey became very popular in the market and the production by rye and corn remains, today, as an anecdotal fact.

El whisky: origen, tipos y cocktails por Javier de las Muelas

Cocktails with Whiskey

Whiskey, in its different varieties, is the support towards great cocktails, such as a  Manhattan, a Whisky Sour, a Rob Roy, a Mint Julep, an Old Fashioned, a Brooklyn, a Rusty Nail or a, always homely, Irish Coffee.

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