8 Most Searched For Whisky Questions, Answered

By: Shireen Jamooji

whisky frequently asked questions

Whisky is by far one of the world’s most popular alcohols, and India is the leading consumer of this amber liquor so there’s no denying the love. But even though it’s a staple at every bar counter, it holds a lot of secrets and often sparks a myriad of questions. So if you’re looking to become a whisky connoisseur, or if you’d just like to know a little bit more about your favourite alcohol, here are some answers to 8 of the most commonly asked questions.

8 FAQs About Whisky

What Is Whisky?

We all know of whisky, but becoming a true connoisseur means getting to know the nitty-gritty of its history, and that all begins with the name. Whisky, spelled with no 'e' in its Scottish and Canadian forms and with an ’e’ when talking about the Irish form – is a distilled alcohol made from fermented grain mash. These grains can include barley, corn, rye or wheat. They’re fermented and then distilled resulting in unique alcohol that is among the most popular in the world.

How Is Whisky Made?

Simply put, whisky has 3 major components, grain, yeast and water but there are many steps that go into crafting your favourite tipple. It usually involves a few key steps which are: malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, maturation, and bottling. The grains are mashed and fermented, and the resulting liquid is distilled to concentrate the alcohol. The whisky is then aged in wooden casks, gaining its unique character from the maturation process.

whisky glasses

What is Aged Whisky?

Once distilled, whisky is stored in wooden barrels – usually made of oak – to let them mature and take on the woody, earthy notes of the oak. Aged whisky is the product of time, an elixir patiently matured in wooden casks. The ageing process refines the whisky, enhancing its flavours and imparting distinct characteristics from the wood. The length of ageing varies, and aficionados often find pleasure in the nuanced notes that develop as the whisky rests in the cask.

What Are The Different Types Of Whisky?

Whisky is a diverse spirit, with variations that reflect regional traditions and ingredients. They’re usually named after their place of origin but the distilling process can also vary from place to place. Scotch whisky for example is known for being smoky and comes in single malt and blended varieties. There’s also the Irish version which is triple-distilled and known to be smooth. Bourbon, the American classic, is crafted primarily from corn and is aged in charred oak barrels. Rye Whisky, another American staple is characterised by its spicier notes. It can be made from a mash of at least 51% rye. Japanese whisky often mirrors Scotch traditions and Canadian whisky may include a blend of grains and is often lighter in style.

Is Single Malt Better Than Blended Whisky?

Single malts are whiskies crafted within a single distillery, offering a more consistent taste. In contrast, blended whiskies, as the name implies, incorporate other whiskies or flavours to achieve a diversified flavour profile. They may face criticism because, when not executed with precision, the amalgamation of multiple flavours can result in a cacophony of flavours that don’t necessarily mix well. However, when expertly crafted, blended whisky becomes an art form unto itself, presenting a wholly distinctive and unmatched drinking experience.

whisky glass

Should I Only Drink Whisky Neat?

The purists will probably say yes and scoff at the idea of diluting the taste of a fine whisky, but those rigid traditions are slowly making way for more experimental whisky drinkers. The choice of how to enjoy whisky is subjective. Some prefer to savour it neat to fully appreciate the flavours, while others add a splash of water or a few ice cubes to mellow the intensity. If you’re using a brighter whisky such as Johnnie Walker Blonde Blended Scotch, you can even try your hand at some whisky cocktails. Experimentation is encouraged to find the serving method that best suits individual tastes.

Is Whisky Always Better When It's Expensive?

It’s tempting to assume that expensive bottles of whisky are the best. After all, it makes sense that high quality comes with a high price tag right? But this doesn't always hold in the world of whisky. While some rare and aged expressions can command high prices, there are exceptional whiskies at various price points and it usually comes down to the innovativeness of the distillery and their commitment to quality.

Why Is Some Whisky Smoky?

When describing whisky flavours, the word smoky often comes up in conversation. The smoky flavour in whisky often comes from the use of peat during the malting process. Peat is a type of soil rich in decomposed plant material. When used to dry malted barley, it imparts a distinct smokiness to the grains, which carries through the entire whisky-making process.