Whisky (British English) or whiskey (Irish English and American English) is made from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and corn. Whiskey is typically aged in wooden cask, made generally of charred white oak. One of the important things to remember is that the product never ages in the bottle, only in the cask. The cask is of the utmost importance in whiskey production. Chemically, the whiskey is defined as the time between distillation and bottling.There is a wide variety of whiskey types:
Single Malt Whiskey is malt whiskey produced from the whiskey of a single distiller. It is important to remember that unless the whiskey is labeled "single-cask", it is most likely whiskeys from multiple casks blended to get the taste associated with that distiller's product.
Vatted Malt Whiskey is malt whiskey produced from a blend of whiskeys from multiple distilleries. Typically, when a whiskey is labeled as "malt" or "pure malt", the consumer can assume he or she is purchasing a vatted malt whiskey.
Blended Whiskey is whiskey produced by mixing both malt and grain whiskies. In addition to both malt and grain whiskies, blended whiskey typically includes caramel, natural spirits and flavoring to create the final whiskey product.
Single Barrel Whiskey is a specialty whiskey in which every bottle is from a unique cask. Each bottle of single barrel whiskey can have a distinctive flavor. Often the individual bottles are labeled with the specific cask number.
Cask Strength is whiskey that is bottled from the cask without dilution. This type of whiskey is also known as barrel proof. Cask strength whiskey is exceedingly rare in the present day and only found when dealing with the highest quality product.
The most interesting drink I found made with whiskey is the blue blazer which was created by Jerry Thomas (author and bartender) in San Francisco. Thomas would only make the drink if the outside temperature was 50 °F (10 °C) or below or if the person ordering the drink had a cold or the flu, whose symptoms the drink was to alleviate.
However, it is not so much the drink (which is just a simple whisky punch) but the actual mixing that is unique. Originally mixed in two silver cups, the whisky and water were heated up separately and poured into their own cups. The whisky was then lit on fire, and while it was burning, the water and whisky were poured back and forth between the cups without extinguishing the fire. Jerry Thomas held the cups at a meter's distance from each other while mixing, creating a long blue flame between the two cups.
- 2½ oz rye or bourbon whiskey or Brandy
- 2½ oz boiling water
- 1 tsp powdered sugar
- Lemon peel
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