Whiskey is distilled wine made from grains and aged in wooden barrels.
First, the raw material is cereals, such as barley. Correspondingly, it is fruit raw materials, such as wine, brandy (French Cognac in public recognition) and so on.
Secondly, distilled wine. Corresponding to brewing wine, such as beer, wine, Japanese sake and so on. Most distilled wines have higher alcohol content than most brewed wines.
Finally, most whiskeys need to be aged in wooden barrels. The corresponding ones are vodka, gin, etc. that are directly bottled without being put into wooden barrels and distilled (some of them need to be mixed).
Advanced: Here is a classification of Western spirits. White Liquor (brown wine) and Brown Liquor (brown wine), the former mainly refers to vodka, gin, rum, tequila, etc., the latter is mainly whiskey and brandy. In fact, there are more and more varieties of color in transparent wine.
Whiskey classification method 1: raw materials
The difference in raw materials has brought about a huge difference in the taste of whiskey, and it is also an important difference in the style of the production area that will be introduced later. In view of the status of the Scotch whisky industry, here we borrow some of the legal provisions of Scotland to get a quick introduction to the classification method.
Whisky distilled in a winery using only water and barley malt (Malted Barley) without adding any other grains.
This is the first choice for most advanced whisky lovers.
Whiskey produced from grain distillation of water and barley malt mixed (or not mixed) with germination treatment (or without germination treatment) in a winery.
Unlike malt, which has a more prominent personality, corn whiskey is mainly made of corn, and its aroma and taste are more moderate. Therefore, in most cases, grain whiskey will be used to blend with malt whisky for commercialization.
It is blended with at least one single malt whisky and at least one single grain whisky.
This is the most introductory category of whiskey for most wine tasters and the most famous and most advertised category on the market. If the general public is allowed to say that a whisky brand comes out, the first mention is that most of them cannot run out of this category.
Whiskey blended from at least two single malt whisky distillery products.
Whiskey blended from at least two single grain whisky distillery products.
Note that this is just the Scottish classification method, for the whisky raw material classification in other regions, analogy is sufficient.
Relatively speaking, a variety with a single type will emphasize more individuality, while a harmonious variety will pay more attention to balance. The blended varieties are less affected by one or two of the blended raw whiskeys, and are also a guarantee for stable production, so they can become the main varieties on the market.
It is more important to note that the raw material classification method cannot be used as a criterion for judging the price and even the quality of whiskey. If you encounter the two knives that try to use low-key and whiskey to show that you know how to drink, just a huh. Once it was difficult to understand, if you can understand why LV and Rolex did not lose brand influence because of the upsurge, then seeing whiskey experts still drinking blending varieties, maybe you should also be in awe of the blending whisky distillery that is carefully operated.
Whiskey classification method 2：Whiskey barrel
The concept of brown liquor (Brown Liquor) is mentioned above, and the main source of brown in whiskey is the wine barrels used for aging storage.
The wine barrel used for storing whiskey is made of oak (OAK), and the applicable wood is from North America or Europe. When you taste even a bottle of vintage wine (the concept will be covered shortly), know that this is just the tip of the iceberg where a bottle of whiskey story surfaced. The oak barrel where it once lay quietly, most of the raw materials come from 100 Old oak tree.
North American oak has moderate hardness and strength, is not easily penetrated, and is rich in vanillin.
European oak is harder wood with good elasticity and toughness, rich in carbolic acid and tannic acid.
Generally speaking, North American oak can bring more oak flavor to the wine body. My description is more masculine and more irritating; the European project brings more floral and fruity flavor to the wine body, more delicate and soft.
The thing of wooden barrels seems simple, and actually has various standards through the historical development of the industry. The small barrel makes the wine mature faster and evaporates faster (this requires some scientific knowledge, the relationship between volume and surface area). The small barrel has a volume of about 125 liters, and the large barrel can reach a huge size of more than 500 liters.
How to place wine barrels also affects temperature and ventilation, and it is also very knowledgeable. I won’t talk about it here.
In addition, the aging year marked on the wine bottle does not mean that it is aged in a wine barrel. Some whiskey varieties may be transferred to different wine barrels more than three times in order to add different flavors to the wine body.
Advanced: You may occasionally hear some whisky varieties mention bourbon barrels or sherry barrels, which are actually oak barrels. These barrels are mentioned because they can add different flavors to whiskey.
The oak barrel used for American Bourbon Whiskey will only be used once and then sold to Scotland and other places. Bourbon barrels will help increase the body’s light brown color, with vanilla-like sweetness and citrus flavor.
And the barrel used by Spain to transport (note that it is transported, not aged) sherry (a wine with brandy added) was used by the Scots to disguise tax avoidance (whiskey can be taxed higher than wine). After Shirley barrels have a unique taste, Shirley barrels are very popular. Shirley barrels will make the wine color reddish and add a strong fruity aroma.
Whiskey classification method 3：Whisky Year and “Angel’s Share”
Whiskey bottles may be marked with two times, one is a four-digit Gregorian (Gregorian) year, and the other is one or two digits of the bottle’s aging time. This aging refers to the age of the wine body in oak barrels. If it is blended wine, it must be the year of the lowest age base wine used for blending. According to the laws of most countries, the word age (AGED) must be marked, and there is a minimum age limit for storage in oak barrels (you cannot say that AGED is put in oak barrels for ten months, but it is not a raw child).
Let’s go back to that four-digit Gregorian year. If it is relatively old, it may be the year of establishment of the winery. If it is more recent, look at the specific instructions, either the distilled year or the bottled year.
In most cases, the higher the price of the mature wine, the higher the price. This is caused by the most basic business rules。
First, the longer the storage time in the winery, the higher the storage space cost of the winery.
Secondly, the reason why oak barrels can add charm to the whiskey body is because it breathes. 0.5-4% of the raw material evaporation loss per year (this is still the data of high latitude, cold Scotland), of course, it must be included in the cost of the winery.
Therefore, the pricing of similar whiskies in the same winery will increase because of the aging year, but this does not mean that the high-year whiskey must be better than the low-year whiskey (you are the only criterion for determining the quality of whiskey). If you only stick to the vintage, then the winery will not have any incentive to strive for innovation.