There has been plenty to talk about within the world of whisky over the years with several myths being busted and put to rights. These include Whisky is a mans drink, whisky is spelled with an E or is it without, who knows these days, the regions within Scotland represent the styles, Irish is triple distilled and Scotch is double distilled and lets not forget the “Scotch” is peated and “Irish” isn’t shall i go on ?
I am not here to go into vast detail and educate you with what i state as fact but rather try to offer a simplified version of why and how i think the topics should be covered today, i will add some links to far more detailed explanations at the end.. As always i welcome any discussion..
Firstly many of these might have some substance and valid reasons behind the argument but in todays scene a few of the above statements really do need extra wording like” it was always considered” or “might” “Mostly” and so on.. What is clear, these statements can be very misleading and will have people banding around the wrong information. Take for example a quick search to find the difference between Scotch and Irish Whisky, the results are very interesting !! Articles written by professional journalists who have no connection to the whisky industry stating Scotch is peated and Irish is not !! We then wonder why people who are new to the world of whisky have the wrong information.
We know that in times gone by that a vast majority of Scotlands whisky would have been peated as using peat to dry the germinated barley would have been normal, but this is where current techniques have over taken the old styles and peated whisky is now a lot less common than days gone by, hence the notion that whisky from Scotland is always peated is way off the mark..
Peat has always been an important material in the production of whisky, not only did it help dry the barley it also imparted flavour and aroma within the whisky itself, it has became synonymous with certain styles and areas of the whisky production but as i have already said this is not what defines “Scotch” it hasn’t for a long time !
Ok lets move on to the next statement, “Whisky can be spelt with either an E or without” very true ! But and here is where it gets interesting, the “E” was always associated with Irish and American whiskey, we always assumed if there was an “E” in there that it came from these countries but why ?
We know both spellings work but where did they come from ? If you trace things back then some of the first official spellings using the “E” variation within the USA was in the early 1790s, soldiers were issued with ration books and one of the provisions was to be whisky, this was written within as both “whisky” and “whiskey” so no real definitive here but when the tax declaration of 1791 was written up the spelling was “whiskey” This official document written up by government was a way in standardising the spelling although things are not quite so simple as that.. The fact the spelling had whisky spelled with an additional E did not mean this is how all the whisky production of America was to be known, some of the liquid sold was still sold with what we know as the traditional way of spelling it.
Some also believe that if the whisky was on the bottle without the “E” then tax was not applied, this was not the case either, the spelling made no difference !!
So the “E” within Irish whiskey, when did it start and why.. Throughout the history of Irish whiskey the use of the “E” has been standardised with few exceptions. Irish whiskey was within the industry believed to be superior to the Scottish counterpart, Bushmills have always seemingly used the “e” spelling and when the big crash within the irish whisky production came and those few distilleries that were left amalgamated the spelling became more standard and so the identification of the “E” within Irish whisky became accepted as the way forward.. So the use of the letter was in some ways simply to differentiate between Scotch, Irish and American and therefore in some ways a simple marketing tool..
What has to be understood though is that although we still do use the belief that Irish and American Whiskey is defined by the spelling it is in no way law !! Both countries have distilleries that use the whisky spelling so once again we should be generalising the term as “it is widely accepted that Irish and American whiskey is spelt with an “E” but not in all cases” or simple add “generally” or “usually”
Next up is the “Regions” debate.. Are the regions of Scotland still as important as they were ? Do they still define the styles ? Once again i am not going to go into a history lesson here but i will simply state my opinion and leave the rest up to you..
The regions of Scotland were once a way of knowing what style of whisky you could possibly end up with when you bought a bottle, this however is changing, times and styles are evolving faster than the kettle boils ! Once a bottle of whisky would have been mostly peated then the regions came into force and styles evolved, the Lowlands were well known for the lighter styles, floral, fruity and carrying delicate flavours, the Highlands were more full bodied with more pronounced fruits and oily notes, then we go over to Islay, big peated expressions were what we expected but this is all changing.. Peated whisky is once again being produced by the Speyside distilleries, Highland and Campbeltown, the lowlands are producing more robust expressions and Speyside, speyside is just a law unto itself these days with styles ever changing.. This all adds up to thinking the regions albeit important for understanding some things are far less important for the styles..
Now how about Irish whiskey is triple distilled and Scotch is double distilled ? Again this is a very basic way of describing what was essentially possibly true for the majority but it is not and was not a definitive fact !! There are a number of Irish distilleries that produce Whisky / Whiskey using double distillation and of course there are some distilleries within Scotland that either fully triple distill or produce some whisky that are triple distilled, this instantly dispels the lazy journalism that states these facts..
Lastly and possibly the most important topic that is needed to be discussed but is far simpler to answer is the “Whisky is a drink for men” Quite simple its Bollocks.. Whisky is a drink made for whoever wants to drink it, however they want to drink it.. Whisky does not define itself by gender, race or any other bullshit argument, everyone has every right to ask for a whisky, buy a whisky and drink whisky, no one should be subjected to ridiculous statements nor should they be frowned upon for drinking whisky, if you are someone who believes whisky is for men then you really need to get yourself up to date and move on from those barbaric beliefs… Enough said.
Understandably it can be easier to put a broad statement out there to inform those entering the vast world of whisky but the problem comes that these people are misinformed and become understandably disillusioned. All that is generally needed is a re wording of the statement followed by some simple facts..
All these topics have been covered in far greater detail by far more informed people than myself and with all the facts you will ever need, my advice is that if you want to learn more on each topic then search the whisky sites and not those articles written by non whisky folk, they can be very wrong and far more disruptive due to laziness.
Here are a few detailed versions of the topics covered from trusted sources..
Also for some very detailed whisky topics then check out this awesome youtube site..