A Beginner’s Guide to Tasting and Appreciating Whiskey

beginner guide of whiskey

Whiskey can definitely be regarded as a wine shared by the world. From the islands of Japan to the southern United States, people all over the world are looking for new and eye-catching wines while savoring the flavor of ancient whiskey. However, it is not easy to become a veteran of tasting no matter which country you are in.

If you want to truly become a connoisseur of whiskey, you can’t be shy to ask, and don’t be deterred by the variety of whiskeys. And for those who are arrogant and omniscient when it comes to whiskey, stay away from it. True whiskey lovers always want to know more and are willing to share their own experiences. In this spirit of sharing, this article lists some frequently asked questions about whiskey for readers.

What is the difference between whiskey, scotch and bourbon?

For this common question, even people who claim to be experts sometimes get the wrong answer. In fact, this is a problem with a trap, because whiskey itself contains multiple types of alcohol, and Scotch whiskey and bourbon are also among them. The names of Scotch Whisky and Bourbon are derived from place names: Scotland and the town of Bourbon in Kentucky, USA. However, unlike pure Scotch whisky that is only produced in Scotland, bourbon can be brewed in other regions of the United States outside of Kentucky.

“Whiskey” can refer to any kind of subordinate liquor, mainly including Irish whiskey, Japanese whiskey, Canadian whiskey, American whiskey, Scotch whiskey and bourbon. Whiskey enthusiasts and Irish drinkers may simply refer to Irish whiskey as simply “whiskey”, and only when they talk about other types of whiskey, they add place names.

Wait, is the spelling of whiskey “Whiskey” or “Whisky”?

The answer is that both are correct. “Whiskey” is the Irish spelling (used in Ireland and the United States), and “Whisky” is the Scottish spelling (used in Scotland, Canada, and Japan). Regardless of the spelling used, the source can be found in Ireland and Scotland, namely “uisge beatha” or “usquebaugh” in Gaelic, which means “water of life”, originally translated from the Latin “aqua vitae” , Used to describe spirits.

Where is the origin of whiskey?

Both Ireland and Scotland claim to be the birthplace of whiskey. However, food writer Kate Hopkins wrote in the book “99 Glasses of Whiskey” that neither country has conclusive evidence. She wrote: “Ask the scholar… he (she) is likely to shrug, and then noncommittal say to you, ‘the ghosts know that people in that place don’t seem to like to record history.’”

The manufacture of spirits can be traced back to at least 800 AD. When the Arab chemist Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan was distilled, he fermented the liquor into the original liquor. (Ie beer, wine or cider). The late Michael Jackson wrote a book about whiskey. According to him, when Irish and/or Scottish doctors were still trying to distill beer, there were already distilled liquors around the world. In this “Global Whisky Guide” by Jackson, he explained that the MacVey family (also known as the “Beatons”) were all doctors, and they were translating Arabic medical works. When the secret of distillation was discovered, the whiskey was the first to be brewed. As a doctor, the McVay/Beaton family has operations in Ireland and Scotland, which is why the source of whiskey is unknown. Let’s count as a tie for the time being.

How to make different whiskeys

Generally speaking, the process of making whiskey includes: (1) crushing grains (barley, corn, rye, wheat, etc.) to make broken malt; (2) adding water to make malt paste; (3) boiling the mixture and waiting It is cooled; (4) Yeast is added to decompose sugars and produce alcohol to complete the fermentation; (5) The water in the fermented liquid (equivalent to the beer that is usually drunk) is filtered out, and then the distillation equipment is used for distillation; (6) The resulting wine slurry is poured into wooden barrels for aging.

The following are the methods of making different whiskeys:

Scotch whisky is made of water and barley malt (barley that is soaked in water to cause it to germinate). The alcohol concentration after distillation is less than 98.4%. It is brewed in oak barrels with a capacity of no more than 700 liters for more than three years. The alcohol concentration when bottled is not less than 40%. Except for water and caramel for coloring, no additives should be added. According to the law, only whiskeys that comply with the above process and are brewed in Scotland can be called Scotch whiskies.

“Pure Malt” Scotch Whisky is made from malt and brewed in the same distillery, while “Pure Grain” Scotch Whisky is also brewed in the same distillery, but its raw materials include barley malt and other grains. “Bonded” Scotch whisky is a blended whiskey that is brewed in multiple distilleries.

Irish whiskey must be distilled to an alcohol concentration of less than 94.8% and brewed in wooden barrels for more than three years. According to the law, only whiskey brewed in Ireland in compliance with the above process can be called Irish whiskey.

There is at least 51% corn paste in the bourbon raw materials. The wine must be distilled until the alcohol concentration reaches 80%, and then mixed with water to bring the alcohol content to 62.5%, and then packed in unused carbonized oak barrels. Brew in the barrel and ensure that the bottling alcohol concentration is not less than 40%. According to the law, only whiskeys that comply with the above-mentioned processes and are brewed in the United States can be called bourbon whiskeys.

Tennessee whiskey is a bourbon whiskey produced in Tennessee and filtered through maple charcoal. Other American whiskeys include wines made from rye, corn, barley, and other grains, while blended American whiskies refer to whiskeys made from a blend of 20% American whiskey and 80% neutral alcohol.

How to drink whiskey

Sooner or later, a vocabulary related to spirits can come in handy when ordering at a bar. The vocabulary contained in it describes the way the bartender serves you wine. If you want a whisky at room temperature without any embellishments, remember to order neat whiskey. On the contrary, adding ice cubes (On the rocks) means that you want to add ice cubes to the glass before pouring the whiskey. Normally, straight up and “pure whiskey” have the same meaning, but such a statement often causes confusion. American bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler explained that because The word up contained in this word often means to cool and use a cocktail glass to serve the wine. You can also ask for a small amount of water when ordering whiskey, or you can ask for a water back, that is, another glass of water. Of course, there is nothing shy about expressing your preferences in other plain language when ordering wine. After all, drinking whiskey is not about memorizing words, it is important to enjoy the wine.

It is recommended to add a small amount of water when drinking whiskey. (For those liquors with higher standard alcohol content, that is, barreled original wine, you can add a little more water, because this kind of wine is not mixed with a little water when bottling.) Proper dilution can make your nose and tongue fully perceive the whiskey. Taste, because it counteracts the numbness caused by alcohol. This is the same as what the whisky taster said “water can help open the taste buds”.

When learning how to taste whiskey, consider its appearance, aroma (first the original whiskey, and secondly the diluted liquor), taste and taste. The famous whisky taster Charles MacLean (Charles MacLean) “Legend of Wine: Scotch Whisky” provides a quick plan for tasting whiskey, explaining in detail the method of brewing pure malt whiskey.

For more in-depth professional tasting, please refer to the Michael Jackson column of “Whiskey Magazine”.

Types of whiskey to try

Finally, we will list some wines worth tasting. Next time you visit a whisky bar (Dublin, Speyside, Kentucky, or any other place that loves whiskey), please pay attention to whether they have the types in the wine list below.

Bushmills 12 years: An Irish whiskey with a small amount of sherry, fruit and nuts
Connemara (Connemara) pure malt: peat whiskey, sweet, with a small amount of vanilla ingredients, produced in Ireland’s only independent distillery: Curry.


Dalwhinnie: Scotch whisky with heather aroma


Ezra B (Ezra B) single barrel: aged for 12 years, this bourbon has rich layers and flavors with spices and honey.


Glenfarclas 12 years: A pure malt Scotch whisky from Speyside, nutty, peaty and caramel aroma.


Talisker: Peaty Scotch Whisky from the Isle of Skye


Willett 8 years: Produced in Kentucky’s limited sale of bourbon, its standard liquor releases a mellow, smoky honey flavor.


Speaking of this, you must be eager to try and thirsty. Then you can toast to your heart’s content.

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