Whiskey for Beginners: Things You Might Not Know about Whiskey

Are you just starting to fall in love with whiskey? Or do you simply want to learn more about this delicious drink? Regardless of the reason, we’re here to share the basics with you.

Is it ‘whiskey’ or ‘whisky’?

Some people spell it as ‘whiskey’, while others spell it as ‘whisky’. This can get quite confusing, especially for a beginner; but fret not for both spellings are correct. In countries like the U.S. and Ireland, they commonly spell it with the word ‘e’, while in countries like Canada and Japan, they commonly spell it without the ‘e’. Still, both are correct, as are both plural forms ‘whiskeys’ and ‘whiskies’.

What the word ‘whiskey’ actually means

‘Whiskey’ comes from the gaelic word ‘uisce’ and the term ‘uisce beatha’, which when translated, means ‘water of life’. This is because they used to use this distillation as a form of medicine back in the 15th century. Now, it just heals our minds and souls. So, if anyone throws out that saying ‘whiskey is life’, you can throw out this fun fact at them.

The different kinds of whiskey

There are a LOT of different types of whiskey out there. Just take a look at the recent Whisky Live event that featured 131 types of whiskey for the tasting! There are different categories for these types of whiskey, such as their grains and treatment, the amount of time they were aged; their country or region; and what happens after they’re ready to be bottled.

The most common types of whiskey are bourbon (with caramel, honey, vanilla, brown sugar, spice, cinnamon, fruity, or nutty flavors), rye whiskey (with hot, spicy, earthy, and bready flavors), malt whiskey (with bold, smoky, malt, ripe, light, mellow, wood, or fresh flavors), grain whiskey (with mild, clean, sweet, or floral flavors), Tennessee whiskey (with caramel, honey, vanilla, sugar, and maple syrup flavors), single pot still whiskey (with creamy, leathery, cocoa, peachy, tropical, or honey flavors), and blended whiskey (with light, smooth, toasty, or honey flavors).

How to make whiskey

Ever wondered what you can find in a bottle of whiskey? Of course, different whiskey makers have different ingredients and processes in making their whiskey. However, the four main ingredients of the drink are cereal grains (barley, corn, rye, or wheat), yeast, and water. Of course, time plays a factor here, as well, as the drink is aged in barrels.

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There are several steps to making whiskey, but here is a condensed version. First, the grains are ground up and added to hot water to turn the starch into sugar. Yeast is then added and as it ferments, the yeast will consume all of the sugar, causing it to release CO2 and create different kinds of alcohol. After a few days, the liquid is carbonated and distilled several times, depending on the kind of whiskey that is being made. The distillation process ensures that the bad alcohol and water are removed, and that a higher percentage of alcohol remains. After distillation, the alcohol is placed into barrels for aging for a few years and mixed together before being bottled and drank worldwide.

How to drink whiskey

There are different ways to drink whiskey, depending on your personal preference. You can drink it ‘neat’, meaning you pour it straight from the bottle and drink it as it is; or as a straight or mixed shot. If you prefer your alcohol cold, get it ‘on the rocks’, which just means you drink it with ice. Ideally, though, your ice cubes should be pretty big so that the whiskey doesn’t dilute as quickly.

You can also drink it with a little bit of water or ginger ale if you’d like. However, if you’re going down the water route, make sure you go for bottled water so that the whiskey’s flavor won’t be too affected.

If you’re a complete beginner when it comes to drinking whiskey, though, we’d highly recommend drinking it with coke since the sweetness of the soda goes really well with it. There are a lot of whiskey-based cocktails out there, as well, that can ease you into the world of whiskey with ease.

What’s your favorite whiskey?






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