Most people think of whiskey as brownish in color and it burns when you swallow it, but there’s so much more to know.
Do you know the difference between Scotch whisky and the American whiskey? What about bourbon and rye? And what exactly is a ‘neat’ pour? What difference does it make if you serve it in a glass or a mug?
For starters, let’s look at the difference in bourbon and rye. A big difference is the kind of wood in which the whiskey is matured. Bourbon whiskey has to be matured in American oak casks. Bourbon whiskey will have lots of woody flavors. Rye whiskey tends to be lighter, doesn’t necessarily need to be matured in new casks, and has less woodiness. Scotch whisky flavors are very distinct. There’s less flavor coming from the wood compared with bourbon.
Whiskey is a general term used to describe a spirit that’s made from a distilled grain that’s been matured in oak, whether you’re drinking bourbon, rye, Canadian rye, Irish whiskey or scotch, they’re all whiskey. Here’s a general Whiskey Making 101 to share how whiskey is made:
Grains are ground and cooked and barley is malted.
Grains and barley are added to warm water, converting into a liquid known as mash.
Mash is added to a fermentation tank with yeast. Yeast converts sugar to carbon dioxide and alcohol. After 3-4 days the mash has turned into distiller’s beer or low wine.
The wash is heated, turning alcohol into vapor. The alcohol is collected in a second container and is now known as high wine or new whiskey.
Water is added to new whiskey and stored in wooden barrels and is stored for at least 3-4 years, sometimes up to 15 years.
Why Your Whiskey Glass Matters
Whiskey glasses are shaped to enhance the experience of drinking and nosing whiskey. The most popular glasses feature a bulbous body shape which allows aromas to collect and be directed through a narrow rim.
Choosing the correct whisky glass can really improve your enjoyment. There’s a shape and style of glass for every whiskey fan, too. These range from the compact Glencairn to the extravagant snifter. Here are the various shapes of whiskey glasses.
- Tulip or copita glass
- Glencairn glass
- Whiskey tumbler
- Highball glass
- Snifter glass
- NEAT glass
The Glencairn Whisky Glass (yes, that’s Whisky without the e)
In some countries whiskey is spelled whisky, omitting the e. Just an fyi, so you won’t think it’s a typo.
The Glencairn Whisky Glass is a revolutionary whisky glass that lets one savor the taste and complexity of fine whisky. These glasses are great to use for any of your Single Malt Whisky's, Irish Whisky's, and also your single barrel bourbons. With the tapered mouth, you are able to really smell all of the nuances the whisky has to offer.
Champagne, Brandy, Wine, each has its own glass. Yet whisky, the worlds’ most complex spirit can be found served in anything from Highball tumblers to Paris goblets.
In 2001 Glencairn Crystal solved the problem of identifying the ideal glass for whisky. Designed by Raymond Davidson nearly 25 years earlier, its development involved pulling together the master blenders from the five largest whisky companies and asking them to complete his initial design.
Today the Glencairn Glass can be found at every distillery in Scotland, Ireland, Wales as well as most of the USA.
By the way, a ‘neat’ pour is from the whiskey bottle directly into the glass.