If you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage every now and then, perhaps a little too much on the odd occasion, and rightfully so.
For me personally, if I had to describe my ideal winter’s evening, I’d be sat in front of a roaring fire, relaxing with a good book in one hand, and a glass of whisky in the other.
As you know, I’m a huge fan of travelling and so for today’s post I’ll be doing something a little different. Yes, I’ll be talking travel and will be taking you on a voyage of discovery to places like Scotland, Ireland, and Japan (yes, really) as we learn about my favourite tipple – whisky.
If you want to get an idea of just how popular whisky is, just take a look at the vast selection of whiskies on offer the next time you’re browsing the alcohol section of your nearest shop. There are single malts, single grains, Irish whiskey, blends, Bourbon, Tennesse whisky, whisky liqueur and much more besides.
Whatever your favourite brand of whisky or whiskey is, here are my se7en mind-blowing whisky facts.
Jack Daniel’s is not actually a bourbon
Whether you love JD or hate it, it has to be said that Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world and it is one of the most recognisable brands.
Personally, I do enjoy a double JD and cola now and then and while Scotch whisky purists likely wouldn’t be too thrilled if they ordered a whisky and were served Jack Daniel’s, it has to be said that JD is very popular.
One common misconception regarding Jack Daniel’s, though, is that JD is a bourbon whiskey but that is not the case. JD is actually a Tennessee whiskey, and yes, there is a difference.
A bourbon whiskey is not filtered after being distilled, whereas JD is. Jack Daniel’s is filtered through whiskey-soaked sugar-maple pallets which have been set on fire and turned to charcoal. This filtration process is known as the Lincoln County Process and it removes certain impurities and gives the JD its unmistakable scent, aroma, colour, and taste.
Whisky is huge in Japan
If I was to ask you to name me an alcoholic beverage that’s very popular in Japan, despite many of you probably going with Sake (pronounced ‘Sar-Kay’) you may be surprised to learn that whisky is huge in Japan.
When you think of whisky, you likely think of the barren moors and rugged landscapes of the Highlands of Scotland and the green countryside of Ireland. However, over recent years, whisky distillation in Japan has really taken off and more people in Japan are now drinking whisky than ever before.
The industry in Japan is less than a hundred years old and was founded by a man named Masataka Taketsuru, who actually mastered the art of making whisky in Scotland shortly after the end of the First World War.
What is the Angel’s Share?
Take any tour of a whisky distillery in the Highlands of Scotland and you will likely hear all about the ‘Angel’s Share’ but what the heck is it?
Once the whisky has been stored in casks to mature, a small percentage of the whisky will actually evaporate through the wooden casks into the atmosphere. This can vary, but it is usually 2% of the whisky and you can instantly smell it when you’re nearby to a distillery, let alone inside one.
The whisky that evaporates into the atmosphere is thought of as a sacrifice to the heavens and a gift to the angels – hence the name.
Whisky fumes can turn trees a dark black colour
Remember how I said that whisky evaporates as it matures and escapes into the atmosphere? Well, if you’re ever visiting the Highlands of Scotland and are embarking on a distillery tour (which I strongly recommend that you do) as you approach the distillery, just take a look at the trees nearby.
The fumes escaping into the atmosphere are so pungent that they discolour the bark of surrounding trees and turn them a dark black colour. Luckily this chemical reaction is not toxic to the trees, it just makes them look as if they’ve been set on fire.
Whisky and whiskey are not the same
Visit Scotland and order a Scotch whisky, you won’t find a letter ‘e’ in the name. If you visit Ireland and order a whiskey, though, you will find one.
The ‘e’ is added to set the two apart. You see, Scotch whisky is generally stronger and can create a mild “burning” sensation as it goes down. Whisky purists love it but for the general public, it is a little too harsh.
Irish whiskey is distilled three times and is less harsh on the palette.
Incidentally, in order for a whisky or whiskey to be known as such, it has to age in a cask for a minimum of 3 years, though many of them are left for much longer.
The Scots love their whisky
Whisky is a quintessentially Scottish drink.
Whether you’re sipping on a fine single malt in front of a roaring log fire in the pub, cooking up your haggis, tatties, and neeps with whisky sauce for Burns Night, or giving a loved one their favourite bottle on a celebration, Scotland wouldn’t be Scotland without their whisky.
In warehouses located in distilleries in Scotland, there are more than 22 million casks of whisky currently maturing. To give you an idea of how much whisky that is, the population of Scotland is around 5.46 Million as of 2019. That means that there are currently 4 casks of whisky for every person living in Scotland!
Blending was designed to soften harsh whiskies
Remember how I told you that Scotch whisky was strong and could be a little harsh on the throat? Well, to make whisky more mainstream and to appeal to a wider demographic, master blenders blended different whiskies to soften them.
There are legally 5 different types of Scotch whisky, and they are:
- Single malt
- Single grain
- Blended malt whisky
- Blended grain whisky
- Blended whisky
A blended whisky is one which combines malt whisky and grain whisky together. This creates a softer, less-harsh finish that appeals to more people. Roughly 90% of worldwide whisky sales are blends and if you’re considering getting into whisky, a blend is a great starting point.
What do you think? Did you know all these facts?
Until next time stay safe, stay curious and don’t stop wandering!