When you say your favourite tipple is whisky, how much do you actually know about its history? If your answer is “not much”, then it’s time to buff up your whisky game. We’ve put together a list of some fun facts to help you understand the libation a little more intimately, which will transform you into an expert in all things whisky.
- Indians drink more whisky than anyone else in the world. According to a 2014 study, Indians consumed more than 1.5 billion litres of whisky that year, more than three times the second largest consumer, the USA, and more than ten times the consumption of France, which is the third biggest market.
- Whisky has been made in India since the 1820s, when a British army officer Edward Abraham Dyer set up the country’s first distillery in Kasauli, a mountain town which is now in Himachal Pradesh. He later shifted the distillery to the nearby town of Solan.
- The Irish and Americans spell it as whiskey, while the rest of the world, including Scotland and India, spell it as whisky.
- Whisky is produced in distilleries, while beers are made in breweries.
- Whisky is made using barley and grains in Scotland, grains in Ireland, and corn and rye in US and Canada. Most Indian whiskies are made from molasses.
- Scotch whisky is available in five distinct combinations: Single Malt, Single Grain, Blended Scotch, Blended Malt and Blended Grain.
- As the name indicates, a blended whisky is a blend of several whiskies made from same kind of grain, or even different kinds of grain. It could be a blend of different varieties of whiskies made in the same distillery, or whiskies made in different distilleries. The proportion of the various whiskies in the blend is usually determined by an expert called the Master Blender.
- The whiskies used in blending Scotch whisky vary in ages between 3 to 50 years. When a Scotch whisky bottle says that it is an ‘8 Year Old’ or ‘12 Years Old’, it implies that the youngest whisky in the blend is at least 8 or 12 years old.
- Blended Scotch makes up for 90 % of the world Scotch whisky consumption.
- Black & White, one of the pioneering blended Scotch whiskies, is more than a 130 years old. It was originally known as House of Commons, as the company had a contract to supply whisky to the British Parliament. But people gave it the nick name of Black & White in reference to the distinctive livery of its bottle. The name became so popular that it was eventually adopted by the brand.
- Whisky, in an open bottle, can survive for more than five years, while the sealed bottle can last for over 100 years without losing its flavour. Just make sure that it is kept away from direct sunlight.
- A whisky stops ageing once it is bottled. So if you were wondering what the age mentioned on the bottle means, it is actually the time it spent in the wooden casks before it was bottled.
- The colour of the whisky comes from the wooden casks in which it is aged and additives like caramel. Scotch and Irish whiskies are mostly aged in used Bourbon and Sherry casks made from oak while American whiskies are produced in new charred oak casks.
- There is an age-old debate over how best to drink whisky. Read here to know more. Scots do it by mixing just a few drops of water which releases its ‘bouquet’. Most Indians enjoy their whisky with ice and water. But some people believe that ice in the whisky numbs the taste buds, so the drink is best enjoyed with just water.
- A tulip shaped glass is ideal for whisky because it helps concentrate the aroma. There are four steps to be followed to enjoy your tipple to the fullest: ‘swirl’ it to allow the whisky to breathe; ‘smell’ to experience the aroma; ‘sip’ to enjoy the flavour; and finally ‘savour’ the aftertaste that a good whisky leaves behind.
- Popular terms are used for whisky shots in different places. India calls it the Patiala Peg, while in Scotland, it is referred to as the ‘wee dram’.
So now you know.
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