Learn A To Z Of Scotch Whisky Words (Part I)

Scotch Whisky

Scotch whisky is a classic drink from Europe originating in Scotland. Nothing beats a dram of this spirit when you want a tipple to toast, or relax and rejuvenate. But there is a glossary of words related to this drink and they explain the very details of the process of making this fine liquour. Learn about them in our three-part article.

A to Z Glossary Of Scotch Whisky Words


ABV is short for alcohol by volume. It is a unit measurement used to indicate the amount of pure alcohol or ethanol in a liquid. Scotch whisky must have 40% ABV.

Age statement

This term is used to convey the number of years the whisky has spent in the barrel before bottling. Scotch whisky is aged for a minimum of three years, whereas in blended whiskies, the age of the youngest whisky is mentioned.

Angel’s share

Angel's share is the distillate that evaporates from the cask through the wood during maturation. The Customs & Excise Act allows for 2% of Scotch whisky to evaporate each year. The angel share decreases as the whisky matures.


Barrels made of staved timber and closed metal hoops that are used for aging alcohol are called casks. Scotch whisky must be matured in oak casks for at least three years.

Cask finishing

The term means transferring whisky from one cask to another (which often held a different type of alcohol but most frequently sherry) for a secondary, shorter period of maturation. For instance, a whisky might be matured in new or used oak but finished in casks that formerly held oloroso sherry.


Cask-strength is an important terminology used to convey that the whisky is bottled at the proof that it came out of the barrel. This means the whisky wasn't diluted with water, owing to which it has a higher ABV, which is a minimum of 55%.

Column/Coffey still

This is an apparatus consisting of two stainless steel columns which are capable of continuous distillation. Coffey still was patented by Aeneas Coffey in 1860. They are more efficient than single-batch pot still and are used to make grain Scotch whiskies.


A person who makes wooden casks, barrels, vats and similar vessels using staved timber is called a cooper. The work that he does is called cooperage.


Campbeltown is a town with a seaside location. It is considered to be the smallest of Scotch whisky regions and known for distinctive whiskies which have smoky, oily, briny notes.


It is a process where a pure liquid is obtained from a mixture of fluids by heating the said fluid. The heat causes the pure liquid to turn into gas which is then converted to liquid by cooling it. With regards to the manufacturing of Scotch whisky, distillation removes alcohol from the fermented mixture in the form of vapour. This vapour is condensed to form liquid again. The process is carried out using single batch pot stills or continuous column stills.


A single serving of neat whisky is called a dram. As per the United Kingdom's National Measurement and Regulation Office, bars must serve either a 25 ml pour or a 35 ml pour. Dram is also a commonly used colloquial term and its amount depends on the one who is pouring or drinking.


The matured whisky is transferred from one cask to another (which is likely to have held a different kind of liquor), and the whisky is said to be 'finished' in the second cask through a shorter period of time, having also been imparted with additional flavour.

First fill/refill

When a cask is used to age whisky that earlier held bourbon, port, sherry, wines or other spirits, it is called a first fill. When the cask is filled with whisky a consecutive time, it is called a refill. A first-fill cask gives more flavour to the distillate than a refill cask. The cask loses its influence with each refill.

Learn more fascinating terms related to Scotch whisky in the second part of this article!

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