Friday, June 11, 2010

Scotch - Part I

Scotch is an alcohol deserving of its own blog, let alone its own post.  Because there is so much to talk about, we're going to make this a multi-part series.  Today, we cover some of the basics - scotch's ingredients, a brief mention of its regions, and I wax poetic about my feelings on scotch.

This blog is a cocktail blog, but its primary role should not keep us from exploring other interests (see our Side Project #1 - Chocolate Chip Cookies).  In this case, by other interests, I mean scotch.

Scotch is my drink of choice.  My scotch drinking has lessened a bit of late.  Most evenings, if I'm making a drink for the site, I'm probably not indulging in a glass of scotch as well.  I'd love to get drunk on a Tuesday, who wouldn't, but this isn't college anymore, and my body likes to be up at 6am if not sooner to hit the gym.  Multiple drinks would only impede my schedule.

It's sad too, because I love scotch.  I love its warmth, I love the variety between bottles and their time spent in casks aging, I love the differences between the regions in which scotch is made, I love the instant connection you can have with another random scotch drinker - the shared bond of a particular alcohol somehow imparting something more significant on two people than the proximity of their seats.

In preparing for this post, I looked through my 6 or so bottles of scotch that I currently have in my stash.  Many of them are near empty.  It's almost as though I can't bring myself to finish the bottle off, as if I believe the last few fingers of scotch will always remain there, no matter how often I return to the well.

I suppose the first place we should start with scotch is The Scotch Whisky Order of 1990.  Give it a look, it's fascinating - I've linked to the Order here.

So what makes scotch, well, scotch?  Taken from Paragraph 3 of the Order:
    Definition of Scotch whisky     3.    For the purpose of the Act "Scotch whisky" means whisky—
       (a) which has been produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added) all of which have been—
         (i) processed at that distillery into a mash;
         (ii) converted to a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems; and
         (iii) fermented only by the addition of yeast;
       (b) which has been distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8 per cent so that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production;
       (c) which has been matured in an excise warehouse in Scotland in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres, the period of that maturation being not less than 3 years;
       (d) which retains the colour, aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production and maturation; and
       (e) to which no substance other than water and spirit caramel has been added.
Interesting stuff, eh?  I love it when an alcohol is so important that it requires a legislative enactment of its ingredients.

So now that we know what's in it, where does it come from?  Scotland of course, but I mean, where in Scotland?

There are 4 main regions in Scotland, all of which impart various flavors and aromas to a scotch from the region:

- Highland
- Lowland
- Speyside
- Islay

Campbeltown is often included in the list of scotch regions, but the four above are what you're going to primarily run into when purchasing scotch.

I know this long post hasn't taken us to drinking any scotch as of yet - which is unfortunate.  Know though that we will certainly be drinking scotch in the future.  For now, and for the weekend, go buy a bottle of Glenmorangie's The Original - a fantastic 10 year old that won't run any more than $35 or so.  In fact, Glenmorangie just lowered many of its price points in order to compete with the vodka and tequila producers of the world - so you may be able to find it cheaper still.

In our next scotch post, we'll talk about the differences between the regions, a few of my personal favorites, and talk about whether drinking it on the rocks is kosher.

Have a splendid weekend my friends - see you all next week!


Indianapolis Amy on June 15, 2010 at 7:07 PM said...

what a great post. Really informative. I don't know a lot about scotch...and now I need to pick up a bottle of The Original. Can't wait for part 2.

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