Whisky or whiskey is a distilled liquor made from fermented grain, rye or barley.
While distillation was known throughout Europe and the Middle East through the Middle Ages, the beverage as we know it has its origin in Scotland (where it is spelled whisky, the Commonwealth spelling) and Ireland (where it is spelled whiskey, a spelling also used in the United States). The beverage was called uisce beatha in Irish and uisge beatha in Scottish Gaelic, translated as "water of life".
Whiskey-making has spread around the world with the Scottish and Irish diaspora. Today, many countries around the world have some whisky production at different quality levels.
|“||Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.||”|
—Attributed to Mark Twain
Whiskey can be made from several ingredients, and is named for the largest or sole ingredient.
- If it's not specified, the usual type is malt whiskey made from 100% malted barley. Scotch and Irish whiskies are usually malt whiskies. A "single malt" has only malt whisky from one distillery.
- Whiskey made from less than 100% barley (but more than 50%) is grain whiskey. Scottish blended whiskies contain a mixture of grain and malt whisky.
- Rye [whiskey] is made from rye. In "rye malt whiskey" the rye is malted before brewing.
- Corn can be used to make unaged "corn whiskey", but most whiskey made from corn is aged to meet the requirements of becoming bourbon [whiskey].
- Wheat can also be used to make wheat whiskey, which is common in German whiskies.
Ireland has a long tradition of whiskey and had 18 distilleries in 2017, and some distilleries offer tours.
Scotland has a long tradition of distilling whisky. In 2017 there were 126 whisky distilleries. Most of these produce malt whisky, but there are a few larger distilleries producing grain whisky which is used to make blended whisky. Nearly half of the malt distilleries offer tours for a fee which usually includes a sample or two.
- The Isle of 2 Islay in the Inner Hebrides has 9 distilleries. Islay whiskies have a distinctive peat smoke taste, which is most pronounced in Laphroaig. Neighbouring Isle of Jura has one distillery.
- 1 Dallas Dhu distillery museum, Forres. Museum in a distillery which operated between 1899 and 1983. The Benromach Distillery is nearby, producing a classic Speyside whisky.
- 3 Campbeltown. A small west coast town which at one time had 30 distilleries, of which 3 remain, all offering tours: Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia.
- 4 Glenmorangie Distillery, Tain. This distillery produces 6 million litres of Scotch whisky per year, sold as single malt and not blended. This is a smooth highland malt.