When you think of Scotland whisky is the first thing that comes to mind. Apart from the breathtaking scenery, rolling hills and beautiful winding roads, whisky is what makes Scotland so famous. The famous Scotch whisky comes from Scotland. In fact so synonymous has good whisky become with Scotch that in England if you ask for a whisky you will be inevitably handed a Scotch unless you specify otherwise.
There are five main categories of Scotch. These categories are single malts, single grain Scotch, blended grain whisky, blended malt Scotch whisky which was earlier called a vatted malt or pure malt, and blended Scotch. There are some specifics that need to be followed for a whisky to be called a Scotch. The first condition being that this whisky needs to be made specifically in Scotland. No matter what specifications are followed, if a whisky isn’t made in Scotland it cannot be called a Scotch. The next thing to bear in mind is that after distillation a whisky needs to be matured or aged in fine oak barrels for a period of at least three years. In fact it has been made compulsory to write the age statement on the bottle.
According to the Scotch Whisky regulations for any whisky to be called a Scotch it has to clear some guidelines. The first regulation is that such a whisky has to be produced in a Scottish distillery and should be made with water and malted barley. Other whole grains can be added to this barley. Secondly, this concoction has to be processed into mash in a distillery and then fermented only by adding yeast. The distilled spirit has to have an alcoholic strength of less than 94.8% by volume. This spirit now has to be left to mature in oak casks in warehouses in Scotland. The capacity of the oak casks is also regulated and cannot exceed seven hundred liters. The whisky also needs to mature for at least three years. A whisky is declared a Scotch only after it follows these procedures and then goes through the color and aroma test.
In order to become a Scotch, a whisky must manage to retain the aroma, color and flavor of the raw materials that go into its making. Apart from water and plain regulated caramel coloring no external substances can be added to enhance flavor or appearance. Finally, after following all these protocols, a whisky can be declared a Scotch only after it has gone through an alcohol strength test. A Scotch has to have the minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 40%.
If you are visiting Scotland, whisky distillery tours have to be on your mind. Almost all distilleries have tours that take the visitor and introduce him to the fine art of whisky making. There can be many type of whisky tours of Scotland. Some tours take you around the distillery and teach you the nuances of whisky making. Some are even more detailed and take you down to the cellars and let you experience fine whisky in some tasting sessions. You can even go on a whisky trail to gather the full experience of the famous whiskies of Scotland. Either ways you will emerge a whisky connoisseur.