An act of dilution most common amongst American distilleries in the mid-20th century in order to bring the proof down to 86 (43% ABV).
Mostly produced on the island of Tasmania, Australian distilleries tend to be smaller operations than those elsewhere in the world. The majority of Australian distilleries produce single malt whiskies.
During maturation evaporation causes a percentage of alcohol in each cask to evaporate, lowering the ABV of the content. The amount lost is known as the 'angel's share' and varies depending on climate. In Scotland the angel's share amounts to a loss of around 2% each year - this can be much more in warmer climates.
An enzyme used to convert the starch in grains into maltose.
One of the most widely used woods in whisky cask production (see Cooper). American Oak has a high vanillin content. It is also commonly known as White Oak.
An age statement gives the time spent in the casks by the youngest spirit in the blend. Whisky does not mature further in the bottle, and so the age does not include time since bottling.
Additional Cask Enhancement, as coined by Scotch distillery Bruichladdich. Another term for Cask Finish.
Alcohol by Volume. This is a measurement of alcohol strength by the percentage of alcohol present.
A large cask of 105 gallon capacity. Most frequently used in sherry maturation.
A North American oak species used in the production of casks that are used new in the production of Bourbon, and reused in Scotch whisky production.
The total amount of liquid in a container at a given point, measured in litres.
The process of mashing grains in hot water with yeast to promote their fermentation, one of the earliest stages in the production of whisky.
American whiskey that meets certain standards: it must be distilled from a minimum of 51% corn, to no more than 80% ABV and filled into unused, charred oak barrels diluted to no more than 62.5% ABV.
Storage warehouses in which whisky is held, deferring excise duty.
A whisky that consists of a blend of malt and grain whiskies, usually in a 2:3 ratio. The quality of a blended whisky might be determined by the balance of malt to grain within the blend.
A blended of exclusively malt whiskies. These whiskies will come from different distilleries, as a blended malt from one distillery will generally be considered a single malt.
The oldest continuously cultivated cereal in the British Isles, believed to have been brought over by Vikings in the 9th century.
Because liquid requires alcohol for distillation to work, all whisky production begins with the fermentation of cereal grains to create a rudimentary beer.
The cereal grain used in single malt whiskey production, as well as other varieties of whisky.
A tasting term relating to the balance between flavours in the final product.
An enzyme in cereal grains that allows access to starch.
The prominent grain used in the production of Bourbon, which must be distilled using at least 51% corn.
A species of oak native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. The unique texture and water resistance of the wood means that it is not used like other oaks for the creation of oak casks, but rather for the extraction of cork, as used in bottle tops and stoppers globally.
A person who builds oak casks for whisky maturation (amongst other beverages). The trade itself is known as 'cooperage'.
A still used in distillation that can create a product with an ABV as high as 96% through constant distillation and re-heating of the spirit. Because the end product tends to have less character it is generally not used for the production of whisky.
Chemical compounds that manifest as impurities during fermentation and are widely held to create many of whisky's most notable characteristics.
The malting process undertaken on an industrial scale, seen in the largest of distilleries.
A variety of the continuous still enhanced and patented by Aeneas Coffey of Ireland in 1831.
Heavily kilned malted barley used in the production of sweet stouts and ports.
A controversial filtering method that creates a clearer final product, potentially at the expense of flavour and body.
Bourbon casks are, by law, required to be charred on the inside. The charring process activates the vanilla flavour profiles of vanillin, an organic compound found in American Oak.
A strain of barley used in some Scotch whisky production, such as that of Bruichladdich.
Whisky produced for domestic consumption in Britain is generally watered down to create a product with a lower proof. It is considered, though, that whisky bottled at full strength and then diluted upon serving tastes better. As a result it is possible to buy 'cask strength' whisky that has not been diluted. These can be drunk at full strength in small quantities, but are most commonly diluted with a splash of water.
The maturation of whisky in a cask besides the one it was first distilled into. This extra final stage can be used to impart extra flavour qualities, with Cask Finishes taking place in more unusual casks, like those that have previously held rum. A controversial practice amongst whisky purists, who believe it removes the end product from the status of a true single malt.
Unmatured whisky is stored in barrels for the final part of the production process. The material used to build these casks imparts qualities on the final product, and can affect both taste and appearance. Each cask bestows unique properties on the whisky within, and so two neighbouring casks from the same batch may hold very different qualities. The two most common cask types used are Oloroso sherry casks and American oak Bourbon casks. Both of these are repurposed from previous production usage in the creation of sherry and Bourbon respectively. Casks can contain up to 110 gallons (500 litres) of product.
A term used to describe the amount in litres of pure alcohol that a whisky distillery can produce in a year.
Whisky produced in Canada does not use the same spelling as American whiskey over the border. Typically lighter and smoother than other whiskies, Canadian product is generally blended from whiskies created using a number of different grains.
The smallest of the six main Scottish regions in whisky production, the once thriving Campbeltown is now home to just three distilleries - Glen Scotia, Glengyle and Springbank. The whiskies produced here are distinct amongst the other regions, though, with a balance of salinity, sweetness, smokiness, vanilla and fruit all coming through.
A traditional cask warehouse with an earthen floor, in which casks are stored no more than three high. The superior balance between temperature and humidity creates better whisky, but running costs are higher and casks can only be moved by hand.
A barley malting process that takes place in a large rotating drum.
A Scottish term for a drinks measure, particularly used for whisky.
The second pot still used in double distillation.
The process of distilling a liquid twice, as is standard in most forms of whisky production.
The vital stage in whisky production that creates the beverage itself. Pot stills are used to create the raw product that will then be transferred into casks for maturation.
A UK tax officer responsible for regulation and collection of excise taxes.
Tax imposed upon produced spirits.
One of two varieties of oak - either the Pedunculate, which is used in the production of sherry and brandy casks, or the Sessile, which is more commonly used for wine cooperage.
Light, atmospheric aromas that are brought about by the presence of ether and are easy to recognise on first nosing.
The first part of the second run in a double distillation.
An area in which barley is malted by hand. Due to the ease of completing this process using industrial methods, these are increasingly rare.
The last flavour experienced when drinking a whiskey, after it has been swallowed. The longer the flavour is retained, the longer the finish is considered to be.
The creation of carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol, converted from sugars using yeast enzymes.
The last remnants of distillation, undrinkable. Also known as 'tails' or 'aftershots'.
The device used to grind malted barley into grist.
Flour made from finely ground malted barley, used in the mashing process.
Barley grains that have been germinated, but not yet dried.
Whisky produced using a raw material besides barley malt. This might include unmalted barley, wheat or maize.
A semi-modern variety of barley, originating in the 1960s, and popular until the development of newer varieties in the 1980s.
A large oak cask with varying sizes depending on the industry it is used in.
One of the six main Scottish regions in whisky production, covering most of mainland Scotland north of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Highlands whisky tends to feature a balance between subtle oakiness and rich fruitiness, with elements of honey and peat. Dalmore, Oban and Glenmorangie are amongst the most famous Highlands whiskies.
The middle part of the first distillation.
Water with high mineral content, affecting the taste of the water and thus that of the spirits created in the local area. Created when the water travels over soft rock during the water cycle, hard water frequently contains higher levels of calcium and magnesium ions.
One of the six main Scottish regions in whisky production, the island of Islay (pronounced 'ai-luh') is a remarkably big hitter given its size. Islay whiskies are renowned for their distinctly peaty and medicinal flavour profiles, with distilleries on the south coast of the island creating the most intense amongst these. Famous distilleries on Islay include Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich and Laphroaig.
One of the six main Scottish regions in whisky production, the flavour profiles of Islands whiskies vary from distillery to distillery as a result of the unique terroir of each island. Most are united by the salinity of the sea. Highland Park, Jura and Talisker are all popular Islands whiskies with very different flavour notes. Some consider Island whiskies to be merely a subset of the Highland region.
Primarily a producer of blends distilled from fermented molasses, Indian whiskies would generally be labelled as rum. There is no requirement for Indian whisky to be either distilled from cereals or even matured.
A highly respected producer of whisky, Japan's distilleries produce spirits closer to Scotch efforts than any other nation. Japanese blended whiskies tend to only contain malt whisky from distilleries owned by the manufacturer, with none of the trading between competitors seen in Scotland.
The process of drying malted barley in a malt kiln, preventing further germination.
Though Bourbon can be produced anywhere in the United States, Kentucky is the only state allowed to put its name on the label. Many argue Kentucky Bourbon is superior among all Bourbons.
The arm that connects a still with a condenser.
Litre of Pure Alcohol. A whisky industry measure accounting for total alcoholic content in a vessel of spirit. LPA is found by multiplying the bulk liquid quantity by the ABV. This will calculate how many litres of pure alcohol are present. For example, a cask if whiskey holding 250 bulk litres with an ABV of 60% contains 150 LPA.
One of the six main Scottish regions in whisky production, the Lowlands are situated just above the English border and are the only region in Scotland to favour triple distillation. There are only seven remaining single malt distilleries in the Lowlands, with only Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie existing prior to 2005. There is, however, more distillation in the Lowlands than in any other region in Scotland - but the focus these days is very much on blended whiskies.
The liquids produced in the first distillation in a wash still.
A modified pot still that creates heavier spirits due to the addition of an extra condenser at its head.
A vessel with a sieved bottom, used immediately after mashing in whisky production.
The hunched backed that distillery workers might develop if they spend too much of their career bent over the barley, manually turning it during malting.
A small scale distillery.
After distillation, whisky requires a period of maturation in wooden casks in order to take on its qualities. This period should be a minimum of three years, but is usually somewhere between eight and twenty-five years. These casks are stored in bonded warehouses for the duration of the process. The warehouses are built to create a consistent temperature and humidity, and usually feature earth-flooring.
The skilled worker at a distillery whose job it is to mix whiskies together to create a consistent final product. The best master blenders are invaluable to their distilleries, producing the perfect mix from the whiskies available to them.
The worker in a distillery whose job is to tend to the mash tun.
The vessel in which the mashing process takes place.
A list of the grains and their respective proportions in American whiskey production.
1) The process of steeping Grist with hot water, which releases the sugars in the grain. 2) The mix of grist and hot water.
Bottlings can be done from single casks to create 'single single malts', and this is most commonly done by cask investors drawing from their own barrels. More common, however, is the 'marrying' of whisky casks - a distillery will combine multiple casks of similar ages in a vat for a final maturation of a few months.
Whisky produced from barley malt that has been fermented with yeast and distilled in a pot still. Considered a superior product to common grain whisky as found in blended varieties.
After a malt has been germinated through soaking, it is dried in a malt kiln. The fire in a malt kiln generally contains a quantity of peat, which contributes to the peaty flavour found in many malt whiskies.
Barley grains that have been germinated through soaking in water and then dried using a heating process.
To nose a whisky.
1) The aroma of a whisky. 2) To sample a whisky by smelling it.
Whisky fresh out of the still, yet to undergo its maturation.
Independent owners of whisky casks that seek to bottle and sell their whisky at a later date need naming rights from the original distillery in order to use that distillery's name on the bottles. Without naming rights, the owner must name the bottle something else, and thus potentially lose out on the value their product would hold with those rights.
The reaction of whisky to air after its bottle has been opened.
A modern barley from the 1990s that accounts for roughly half of all barley produced today. It is popular due to its resilience and resistance to disease.
Original Litre of Alcohol. The original quantity of alcohol in a cask at the beginning of maturation, before the angel's share (liquid evaporated during maturation) is taken into account.
The variety of wood required by American law for the building of Bourbon casks and thus, and used widely around the world for other casks. The qualities of individual oak species impact the taste and appearance of a whisky.
A device attached to the Lyne Arm on a still, increasing the reflux to create a lighter spirit.
Irish whiskey distilled in a pot still and not blended further afterwards.
A controversial term in Scotland, usually used to refer to blended malt whisky.
The American method of defining alcoholic strength in whiskey. Generally speaking it is twice the ABV.
Parts per million. See Phenols.
A copper still traditionally used in the distillation process.
A large cask that is roughly the same size as a butt.
A chemical compound in peat that provides its tar, bitumen and medicinal flavours. The use of peat in whisky is measured in Phenol parts per million. A particularly peaty whisky, for instance, might have 30ppm or more.
Malted barley that has been dried in kilns using peat fires, and have taken on peat's distinct flavour profiles.
A brown organic matter that has been formed by the partial decomposition of vegetable matter in the wet and acidic conditions of bogs and fens. Peat is flammable, and is traditionally used to fire kilns during the processing of malted barley to create whiskey. Due to its intense flavour, it can imbue distinct flavour profiles upon whisky. Peat takes thousands of years to decompose to its usable state, and as such is somewhat of a finite resource. As a result, its use in other industries, such as gardening, is increasingly frowned upon.
The taste of whisky in the mouth. It is common for different flavour notes to present themselves at different times, and as such one might experience a 'late palate' of said flavour.
A grain used in the production of rye whiskey, a popular American variety that represented the majority of American output before prohibition.
The liquid which leaves the still through the condenser.
Regauge Litre of Alcohol. A measurement of the contents in a cask when it is sold, or before blending, vatting or bottling. This allows for liquid lost to evaporation and the subsequent change in ABV to be taken into account.
A person who trades in duty suspended goods such as whisky casks, and is legally required to hold a WOWGR registration.
The area that a whisky has been produced in. These areas might be based on geography, terroir-related similarities or, most commonly, a mixture of the two. Most commonly referenced with regards to the whisky regions of Scotland, which produce distinctly different whiskies.
Gases within a still that condense and fall back into the still before reaching the condenser, resulting in a second distillation. The more reflux, the more light and delicate the finished whisky.
A cask that has been used to mature whisky previously. These impart flavour less strongly than first fill casks, that have only previously been used to store spirits from another industry.
A 20th century warehouse type that is cheaper to run than the smaller Dunnage warehouses, stacking casks eight high, and enabling movement via forklift truck.
American whiskey distilled from a minimum of 51% of a given grain, aged for at least two years and distilled to no more than 80% ABV.
American whiskey distilled from a minimum of 51% wheat, aged for at least two years and distilled to no more than 80% ABV.
American whiskey distilled from a minimum of 51% rye, aged for at least two years and distilled to no more than 80% ABV.
Bourbon aged for at least two years and distilled to no more than 80% ABV.
The equipment in which distillation takes place. Their design and shape may vary.
A vessel used to steep barley in water to begin the germination process.
A second still used to re-distil the spirit from the wash still.
An observation box used for watching the spirit leave the still. It is called a safe because UK law requires the operator to avoid direct contact with the spirit, and so the spirit safe is locked.
An artificial colouring, E150, used to colour whisky in order to make it appear older than it actually is.
An alcoholic beverage with an ABV above 20%.
One of the six main Scottish regions in whisky production, found along the River Spey to the east of Inverness. More than half of all of Scotland's distilleries are present here, including Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet, The Macallan and The Balvenie. Speyside whiskies are renowned for fruity and nutty flavour profiles, and are generally the least peaty of the scotch whiskies.
A process in maturation whereby each cask is only partly bottled, leaving some whisky behind. The cask is then topped up with the contents of the next oldest cask, which itself is topped up with the cask after that, and so on.
Water with low mineral content. Soft water occurs when water travels over hard rock.
An American whiskey production term relating to small scale production, though there are no strict requirements for using the term, though, so larger whiskey brands will often create separate 'small batch' productions.
Whisky produced in a single distillery that has not been blended with products from anywhere else. This term does not indicate that the entire product is comprised of whisky from a single batch, though, and may contain whisky from other recent batches produced by the same distillery.
The most commonly used method for cooling spirit vapours during distillation.
Whisky distilled and matured in Scotland. Scotch whisky is generally considered to hold the best reputation amongst those produced across the world.
A device used to malt barley.
A variety of oak only occasionally used in the production of casks.
The process of distilling a liquid three times, as opposed to the more commonly used double distillation. Triple distillation is the preferred technique in the Lowlands region of Scotland, as well as across Irish whiskey production.
The climate, topography and soil type of the region in which a whisky is produced. These elements can have strong effects upon the final character of a whisky.
Malted barley that has been dried in kilns not fuelled by peat.
A blend of single malt whiskies. This results in a consistency that single malt whiskies cannot achieve - though those inconsistencies are often part of the single malts' appeal.
A blend of single malt whiskies. This results in a consistency that single malt whiskies cannot achieve - though those inconsistencies are often part of the single malts' appeal.
The Warehousekeepers and Owners of Warehoused Goods Regulations is a register that revenue traders must be accepted onto in order to store whisky casks in the UK. 'Having a WOWGR' simply means that one is on the WOWGR register.
Liquid drawn from the mash tun that will be fermented to create wash.
A variety of wheat generally preferred for contemporary wheat whiskey in the US.
An American term for New Make.
An English corruption of the Gaelic 'usquebaugh', which itself is drawn from Old Irish words meaning 'water of life'. The spelling of 'whisky' varies geographically, with Ireland and North America generally opting for 'whiskey'. The rest of the world widely uses the former.
A popular grain in American whiskey production during the 19th Century.
The large vessel in which the wash is first fermented.
The first pot still used in distillation.
The vessel in which the wash is collected before being distilled in the wash still.
The beer produced in the early stages of whisky production.
The organism used in fermentation to create wash. Also known as barm.
The amount of alcohol produced from a distillation.