Whisky is one Scotlands greatest gifts to the world and is perhaps her most famous. There are three types of Scotch whisky: Grain, Blended and Malt.
As a general rule, if you are one of those people who like to mix their whisky with anything that has a flavour of its own (even mineral water), then it's best to use a Blended whisky, although if you are paying for it you have the right to use anything you want.
- Grain Whisky. This is made with a mix of various grains, usually maize, wheat and barley. It is almost totally used in the creation of Blended whisky and not as a drink on its own.
- Blended Whisky. This is the most commonly available type of Scotch whisky. The Producers take a selection of Malt and Grain whiskies, each of which are never exactly the same in successive batches and using the skills of their blending staff attempt to mix them into a combination which is consistently recognisable as their own particular brand.
- Malt Whisky. All Scotch Malt whiskies must be produced only with malted barley, that is barley which has begun to germinate and is then dried to stop germination. You will find Malt whisky sold as either Single Malts or Vatted Malts; Single Malts are the product of one distillery alone while Vatted Malts are the products of two or more distilleries mixed to produce a whisky different from any of its ingredients and with a personality of its own.
When you buy a bottle of Scotch whisky and it has an age marked on the label then that was the age of the youngest whisky used in the blend when it was bottled. There may have been (and almost certainly were) older whiskies used, but the age given has to be that of the youngest, and the age only matters up until it is bottled as whisky does not mature in the bottle.
I have no intention of recommending any particular brand of whisky as this is a purely subjective thing, what I happen to like is probably completely different from your preference. All I can recommend is that you try a few different types until you settle on a favourite. But don't get stuck with just one whisky, different types can suit different moods, what fits a quiet night in front of the fire might not fit a spirited discussion with friends, or a warming nip in the fresh air.
Some specialist whisky outlets:
The Cadenhead Whisky shop, 172 Canongate.
Royal Mile Whiskies, 379 High Street.
The Whisky Shop, Waverley Market.
Peter Green & Co., 37 Warrender Park Road.
and also the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, 87 Giles Street, Leith.
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