Last updated: August 10, 2021

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"Water of life" is roughly the meaning of whisky. As simple as the ingredients of water, yeast and grain seem, they can actually be so complex. With a variety of flavours and aromas, whisky can convince anywhere in the world.

Whether you are a whisky connoisseur or a novice, the many different flavours, varieties and characteristics can quickly confuse you. To make your next whisky purchase easier, we have compared different types and summarised the most important aspects. This should help you with your purchase decision. You will learn everything about the different types of whisky and which purchase criteria you should pay attention to.




Summary

  • Whisky has its roots in both Scotland and Ireland. In Scotland, whisky can also be divided into five regions.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between the American and Irish spelling whiskey and the Scottish and Canadian spelling whisky.
  • Of course, not only the origin, but also the aroma, the taste, the cask maturity and the variety are important distinguishing features.

The Best Whisky: Our Picks

In this section, we have compiled our favourites to help you make a purchase decision. Here you will find the right whiskey for every taste. You can then easily order them.

Buying and evaluation criteria for whisky

To make your next whisky purchase easier, we have listed the most important criteria so that you are optimally prepared. The criteria are:

We will now explain these criteria in more detail so that you have a good basis for making your decision.

Origin

Whether Scotland, Ireland or even Japan - whisky is now produced in many countries all over the world. Depending on which tradition the producers follow, there are a few differences. If you want to know quickly which tradition they follow, you can simply look at the spelling.

Whisky from Scotland or countries that see themselves more in the Scottish tradition is spelled without an "e". Whiskey from Ireland or the USA, on the other hand, is spelled with an "ey". Here it can be advantageous to take a closer look at the different countries of origin. This is because the raw materials of the distillates can vary and differ in taste.

Aroma and taste

Since aroma and taste are closely related, we will briefly summarise the two criteria. Whisky can have a wide variety of aromas, which of course can have different effects on the taste.

On the one hand, there are aromas that are created during production, and on the other hand, there are aromas that are created during storage. Accordingly, the taste can be sweet, fruity or smoky, for example. More information about this can be found in a whisky aroma wheel, which we would recommend to you in order to find the right flavour and aroma for you.

Cask maturation

The length of cask maturation can often be a sign of quality and give clues to the content. The longer the whisky matures in a cask, the darker its colour. Of course, this can also be tricked with dyes.

The taste can vary over the length of the cask maturation. The longer the whisky matures in the cask, the more dominant its cask note will be. You should think about how much you like the cask note later.

Variety

There are many different types of whisky, and you should think about their expressions beforehand. For example, the word "single" often means that the whisky comes from one distillery. Blended whisky uses whiskies from different distilleries and then blends them together.

Single cask whisky, on the other hand, is bottled in only one cask. This means that it does not have different cask notes. In addition, single cask bottlings are very limited. If the bottles are sold from one cask, there will hardly be an absolutely identical whisky with an exact aroma profile.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about whisky answered in detail

In this section we explain the most frequently asked questions about whisky so that you are well informed when buying your next whisky.

Which whisky suits me?

Many people ask themselves the question "Which whisky suits me? Of course, this question cannot be answered easily, because tastes differ. In any case, you should be open to the different types.

Whisky can be enjoyed not only neat, but also on ice or in cocktails. The possibilities are endless. (Image source: Bon Vivant / unsplash)

It's also a good idea to have an aroma wheel at hand to help you find the right whisky for you. For people who have never drunk whisky before, however, it is advisable to choose a mild whisky.

What brands of whisky are there?

Whisky is not only produced in different countries, but also by many brands or distilleries. Listing all the whisky distilleries/brands would go beyond the scope of this article, so we have listed a few for you:

  • Glenmorangie
  • Ardbeg
  • Jameson
  • Glenfiddich
  • Highland Park
  • Lagavulin
  • Jim Beam
  • and much more.

Of course, there are others. You can find out more about them on the blog. It's up to you to decide which one is right for you.

How do you store whisky?

Many people often ask themselves how to store whisky properly. Especially when your own collection starts to grow. Heat, light and air are not beneficial for whiskies.

Whiskies should always be stored upright so that the cork does not come into contact with the alcohol. This would mean that the cork could give off undesirable aromas or even lose its tightness. To avoid negative effects on the quality, you should always store whisky in a dark and cool place.

A constant temperature range is crucial here. In addition, you should not store single malts in the fridge or icebox. Furthermore, it is important to store whisky in a dry place and to keep the influence of air as low as possible.

Conclusion

As you may have noticed, not all whisky is the same. With its different aromas and flavours, whisky offers a variety of taste experiences. Pure, on ice or in cocktails - the drinking pleasure is also diverse. Due to different designs, whisky is ideal for giving as a gift. At the same time, whisky bottles also make good decorative elements.

Whether younger or older whiskies - tastes are known to differ. That is why it is difficult to judge which whisky is the best. Accordingly, the price and individual preferences play a major role in the purchase decision.

(Cover photo: Gojda / 123rf)

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