Everything You Need to Know About Whisky

A guide to the different styles and whisky regions, plus a recipe to make your own Boulevardier cocktail.
 

Photograph by Ian J. Lauer.

3 Styles to Know

Scotch

Photograph courtesy of Ardbeg.

Only whisky made in Scotland can be labelled as scotch. While not all whiskies are peated (using grains exposed to peat smoke), scotch is known for having a smoky flavour.

Try: Ardbeg 10 Year Old is rich with notes of coffee and tobacco.

Bourbon

Photograph courtesy of Maker’s Mark.

This American style is made with at least 51 per cent corn. Only new, charred oak barrels can be used for aging, and no additional flavourings or colourings are allowed.

Try: Maker’s Mark is a sweeter sipper with hints of spice and oak.

Rye

Photograph courtesy of Lot 40.

Named for the peppery, spicy grain that provides its flavour, rye is synonymous with Canadian whisky, but is not always its main ingredient, so check labels to verify.

Try: Lot 40 has a bold, spicy palate that is perfect for cocktails.


4 Regions to Explore

Ireland

Irish whiskey must be made with malted barley, but other unmalted cereal grains can also be used. Compared to Scottish whisky, Irish whiskey is known for being smoother, as it is more commonly (but not exclusively) distilled three times instead of twice.

Scotland

As the largest whisky producer in the world, Scotland has become synonymous with the drink, which is called scotch. The region of Speyside is the country’s most prolific producer and home to Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and the Macallan distilleries.

United States

The United States is home to the biggest-selling whisky brand in the world, Jack Daniel’s, which produces Tennessee whiskey that’s filtered through charcoal before aging. The country is also known for its bourbon production, which is concentrated in Kentucky.

Canada

Canada’s whisky industry rose to prominence during the American Civil War and Prohibition, with border cities, such as Windsor, Ont., serving as smuggling hubs. While corn is often associated with rye, it is more commonly used as the base of Canadian whiskies.


Drink to Make: Boulevardier

  • 1 oz whisky, bourbon or rye
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth

Method: Stir ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a glass and garnish with an orange peel or cherry.


Whisky vs. Whiskey

Confused by the two spellings? Us‚ too. Canada and Scotland spell whisky without the “e,” while Ireland and the United States use whiskey.


[This story appears in the November 2019 edition of WestJet Magazine.]

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