Whiskey
type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash
Travel topics > Food and drink > Alcoholic beverages > Whiskey
Whiskey or whisky is a distilled liquor made from fermented grain, rye or barley.
While distillation was known in Medieval Europe, Imperial China and the Islamic Golden Age, the beverage as we know it has its origin in Scotland (where it is spelled whisky) and Ireland (where it is spelled whiskey). The beverage is 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 diasporas. Today, many countries around the world have some whisky production at different quality levels, with the United States of America in particular having developed its own unique and celebrated styles.
Understand
Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.
—Attributed to Mark Twain
Spelling
There are two spellings used for different varieties for the drink; the spelling "whisky" is used in Scotland, while the spelling "whiskey" is used on the island of Ireland. The choice of spelling in other countries is generally, though not always, dependent on whether their variant of the drink is derived from Scotch or Irish whiskey, so the spelling "whisky" is predominant in Canada, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, England and Wales, while the spelling "whiskey" is predominant in the United States. This is however not universal, and outside Scotland and Ireland, you'll often see both spellings being used interchangeably.
Variants
Whiskey can be made from several ingredients, and is named for the largest or sole ingredient.
Geographic indications
The names of the type of whiskey often indicates the location where it is produced, and this geographic indication is often protected by law.
Destinations
Map of Whiskey
Ireland
Ireland (which for the purposes of this article encompasses both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) has a long tradition of whiskey and had 18 distilleries in 2017, and some distilleries offer tours. Irish Whiskey 360° is a web-site run by the Irish Whiskey Association with a list of distilleries you can visit.
Scotland
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. See The Land of Whisky, a free e-book published by Scottish tourism organisation, for a list of all distilleries in Scotland.
Whisky is an important part of the Burns Night (25 Jan) supper, as it is traditionally the drink used to toast the haggis at the end of the "Address to a Haggis" recital and before the main course. Numerous other toasts follow dessert: to the "lassies", to the "laddies", and to the "immortal memory of Robert Burns".
England
There are around a dozen distilleries producing whisky in England. All of these started production in the 21st century after about a century of no production in England.
Wales
Similar to England, Wales was historically a whisky-producing country, but the industry was long dead by the time
9
Penderyn set up shop in a village on the edge of the Brecon Beacons in 2004. Their range of Welsh-themed single-malts has taken the international scene by storm, bagging dozens of awards. The distillery offers tours and tasting masterclasses.
Nordic countries
The most common distilled drinks in the Nordic countries have been brännvin, plain or seasoned vodka.
10
Mackmyra Whiskyby (Whiskey Village) (Valbo, Gävle). Mackmyra is a distillery that introduced the first Swedish whiskey in 1999, now with branches across the country. The distillery offers weekly tours with tasting sessions, book via email. Also a restaurant. 
United States of America
See also: Kentucky bourbon distilleries tours
The United States is famous for bourbon whiskey, which is most famously produced in the state of Kentucky. The other famous style of American whiskey is Tennessee whiskey, which while not usually called bourbon, meets the legal requirements for bourbon whiskey, albeit with the additional requirements that it be filtered through maple charcoal after distillation but prior to aging, and that it be made in the state of Tennessee. See Bourbon Country and Tennessee Whiskey Trail for suggested itineraries of distilleries you can visit.
Canada
Canadian whiskies were traditionally considered to be cheap knockoffs of American whiskeys, but this has begun to change in the 21st century, with numerous boutique distilleries producing good quality whiskies having sprung up. Commercial whisky production in Canada is concentrated in the provinces of Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec, though you can also find some boutique distilleries in the other provinces. Like American whiskeys, Canadian whiskies are primarily made from corn, though a small amount of rye is often added to the mash to enhance the flavour; Canadian whiskies are thus often called "rye whiskies", even though they typically contain little to no rye.
Australia
Australian whiskies were traditionally overpriced knockoffs of poor quality Scotch whiskies, but this has changed in the 21st century, with the country now producing several high-quality single malt whiskies, some of which have won prestigious international awards. Due to it having a similar climate to Scotland, the Australian whisky distilling industry is concentrated in the state of Tasmania, though there is also significant production in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, and much smaller-scale production elsewhere. Australia does not have any large-scale commercial whisky distilleries, the last ones having closed by 1980, so the production of Australian whisky is done exclusively by small boutique distilleries. See The Tasmanian Whisky Trail for a suggested itineraries and a list of all distilleries in Tasmania.
Japan
Whisky was first imported to Japan from the West in 1870 following the Meiji Restoration. The art of whisky distillation would be introduced to Japan by Masataka Taketsuru, who had spent several years in Scotland as an apprentice learning it, in the 1920s. As a result, Japanese whiskies are generally based on Scotch whiskies, but over the years have evolved in their own unique directions.
Taiwan
Taiwan is a newcomer to the whisky scene, having only opened its first distilleries in 2002, but its reputation has grown explosively, with several Taiwanese whiskies having picked up prestigious international awards. Taiwanese whiskies are primarily based on Scotch whiskies, due to the popularity of Scotch in Taiwan, but because they are not constrained by tradition like Scotch, Irish and Bourbon whiskies, Taiwanese distilleries have been able to push the boundaries in innovation.
19
Kavalan distillery, Yuanshan, Yilan County. Taiwan's largest whisky distillery. It has won several prestigious international awards, including the Best Single Malt Whisky award at the World Whiskies Awards in 2015, making it only the second distillery outside Scotland or Japan to do so. Due to Taiwan's subtropical climate, whisky matures more quickly in Taiwan than in Scotland, Ireland or Japan, thus giving Taiwanese whisky a unique character with tropical notes.
 
See also
Celts
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Last edited on 24 September 2021, at 00:47
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