Whisky is liquid sunshine.
George Bernard Shaw
Whisky has been distilled for hundreds of years, for so long that its origins are lost in the mists of time. The word whisky comes from the Celtic "uisce beatha" meaning water of life.
While there is an enormous and wonderful variety of whisky, simply put, whisky is a strong liquor distilled from grains and matured in oak casks for a number of years before being bottled. The difference between the various whiskies depends mostly on the type of grain used for the mash.
Malt whisky is made from malted barley only using traditional copper pot stills, while grain whisky is made from malted barley together with unmalted barley and other cereals, using the patent still process. A skilful blend of both malt and grain whiskies - sometimes involving up to 40 different whiskies - produce world famous blended whiskies.
Distilled in a traditional way to retain the aromas and flavours of the cereals, whiskies must be matured for at least 3 years in wooden casks, with maturation often lasting many more years. This period in cask imparts whiskies with a distinctive golden colour and added complexity of flavour.
Whisky or whiskey?
The spelling 'whiskey' is common in Ireland and the United States, while 'whisky' is used in all other whisky producing countries. Scotch is the internationally recognised term for 'Scotch whisky'.
How to drink whisky
Drink it neat, drink it on the rocks, drink it with a splash of water, or drink it in a cocktail.