The Art of Drinking Whisky

10 Jul

Whisky is one of the most popular spirits, but most people know it because it’s used in cocktails.

How Whisky is Made

Whisky or whiskey (scotch from Scotland and bourbon from US) is made from grain, yeast, and water, but the different types are distinguished by the grains used. The most common are barley, wheat, rye, and corn. However, all whisky is aged in wooden barrels or casks. Today there are at least 14 types of whisky classified based on the region where it was made, but the process of making the whisky is nearly identical.

First, the grain is germinated in a process called malting and then mashed or the combination of ground malt with water. The product of mashing is the wort. Next, yeast is added to the wort for fermentation. The time for fermentation varies among the distilleries, and then the liquid is distilled to remove the impurities. Some distill whisky twice or thrice. Finally, the whisky is matured by storing them in casks, usually oak. Whisky has a minimum of three years of maturation before it is bottled.

The Benefits of Whisky

When consumed in moderation, whisky is known for its stress-reducing abilities. Unlike beer, a glass of whisky won’t make you fat because it doesn’t contain sugar and instead has ellagic acid which can help control glucose production in the liver. Because it has antioxidants, too, whisky is good for boosting memory, controlling cholesterol levels, boosting the immune system, and slowing down the effects of aging.

Whisky Food Pairings

Pairing food with whisky can be tricky as the flavors and aromas have different effects, but generally, lightly sweet whisky are best paired with creamy and lightly flavored dishes, while medium-bodied whisky is best suited for smoked, roasted, seared or braised dishes. Light whisky can be paired with sushi, creamy cheese, crab, smoked salmon, and cranachan, while medium-bodied whisky is best consumed with smoked mussels, oysters, bacon, duck, venison, and scallops.

Full-bodied whisky should be paired with roasted, grilled, and baked dishes as well as richly-flavored food. Try mince or pecan pies, dark chocolate, toffee pudding, gingerbread, roast venison, and seared steak. Strong whisky on the other hand need equally tasty food that will not be overpowered by the drink such as strong blue cheese, mature cheddar, hot-smoked salmon, anchovy spreads or dips, and haggis.

The Best Whisky Cocktails

If you don’t like whisky on the rock, try these cocktail recipes instead:

  • Cameron’s Kick: 1 ounce Irish whisky, 1 ounce blended scotch, .5 ounce orgeat, and .5 ounce lemon juice
  • Old-Fashioned Espresso: 1 ounce rye whiskey, 1 double shot espresso, .25 ounce simple syrup, 1 lemon peel, and 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
  • Blinker: 2 ounce rye whiskey, .5 ounce grapefruit juice, .25 ounce raspberry syrup, and grapefruit twist for garnish
  • Carthusian Sazerac: 2.5 ounce rye whiskey, .50 ounce simple syrup, .25 ounce green chartreuse, 2 dashes lemon bitters, absinthe rinse, and 1 lemon twist
  • Sage-Germain Sour: 2 ounces Irish whisky, .5 ounce honey-sage syrup, .75 ounce lemon juice, and .25 ounce St-Germain
  • Ginger Highball: 2 ounces whisky, 3 ounces ginger ale, and 3 lemon slices

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