Jun 25, 2012

Whiskey vs Whisky?

What's the difference between whiskey and whisky anyways? A 2008 article by New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov on single malts landed him in a bit of trouble with his readers for his spelling of single malt "whiskey," instead of "whisky." Use "whisky" when referring to Scottish, Canadian, and Japanese liquors, Scotch Whisky, and "whiskey" when referring to all other origins, or just in general.

Whiskey serves as an umbrella term for a specific type of spirit that is distilled from fermented grains. Whiskey/whisky is produced in 12 countries (see the map below for where) -- each with their own approach to the grains used, alcoholic content, and quality. Whiskey picked up its nickname "moonshine" in the 18th century when the English Malt Tax passed and forced whiskey distillation to after dark in order to hide the smoke which rises from the stills. 

Map of countries that produce whisk(e)y:

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The main types and combinations of whisk(e)y are:
Scotch whisky — only whisky from Scotland, where barley is the sole grain used in the production process.

Malt whiskey — main ingredient is malted barley, other ingredients can include yeast and other grains. Dominant grains differ by country, Scotland uses barley and oats; America uses corn and wheat. Malting is the process of allowing a grain, usually barley, to sprout.

Single malt whiskey —malt whiskey from a single distillery, therefore, single grain... not the common misconception of a single barrel. Single barrel whiskey is gaining an American audience though.

Vatted malt whiskey — combination of single malt whiskey from different distilleries.

Blended whiskey — mixture of 2/3 grain (includes wheat, barley, rye and/or corn -- which means its much cheaper!) and 1/3 vatted whiskeys. Taste stays relatively the same from year to year because of distillers' ability to control the taste of grain whiskey, making this type favored for mass production.

Bourbon — whiskey whose grain mash contains at least 51% corn

Fri., August 17 | 6 - 9 p.m.
Non-members $25 (FAC Members $20) — $5 discount if you wear a big-ass belt buckle
Tickets online, Box Office 719.634.5583, or at the door

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