New Year New You: Master of Malt

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2018 is here and it’s time to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror.  #NewYearNewYou

A new diet fad?

Smashing the gym on the reg?

Practicing mindfulness and getting those legs into Lotus position 5 days a week?

Yeah, nah...

Wouldn’t you rather put that energy everyone wastes on annual self-reinvention to better use this year? Level up your whisky game and transform yourself into a master of malt in 2018.

It’s no secret the whisky world can be an extremely mysterious and coded universe to traverse for outsiders. There's a seemingly endless list of Do’s and Don’ts related to correct whisky appreciation - passionately upheld by an international army of whisky connoisseurs from across the planet.

So what’s the secret password into this hallowed club? 

Let’s start with the basics.

Single Malts v.s Blends

Single malt whisky is made at a single distillery using malted barley. People are often confused by the term single malt and mistake it for referring to a single cask used in the distilling process but this is not the case. Single malts must be aged for at least three years in oak casks and bottled at a minimum ABV of 40%.

 
Image source: HYDE IRISH WHISKEY - Pinterest

Image source: HYDE IRISH WHISKEY - Pinterest

 

Scotch refers specifically to single malt whisky distilled exclusively in Scotland. Although many other single malts are produced in a Scottish style, they aren’t allowed to use the name.

Blends on the other hand, are very different to single malt whiskies. They tend to be much younger and often are sourced from more than one distillery resulting in different types of whisky often being used in the same blend like grain whisky, which is usually bolder in flavour. Although blended whisky accounts for the largest share of world sales, the most highly prized whiskies are almost always single malts.

Here are some tips on how to act the part of a Master of Malt;

  • Ice in your whisky is not for masters and should not be tolerated as it dilutes the flavours within. (Get yourself some whisky stones instead).
Image source: Vat19

Image source: Vat19

  • Only very minute, exact measurements of water should be tolerated to bring out the best and sometimes hidden flavours in a whisky.
     
  • You appreciate a good set of legs and actually grasp what is meant by a leg.
     
  • You like discussing the science and practicalities of a tulip glass and make sure to explain them to your mates.
 
Image source: Whisky & Dale

Image source: Whisky & Dale

 
  • You know what a cooper is and think they’re awesome. (A barrel and cask maker FYI).
     
  • You pride yourself on your ability to pronounce 'Bunnahabhain' (BUN-a-HAV-in) and 'Laphraig' (La-froyg) . In fact, you’re basically well on your way to fluently speaking Gaelic.
 
 
  • You keep a journal but all that’s inside are scribbled tasting notes from your favourite tipples and drams.
     
  • You love oak trees and always point them out when you pass by. Still you wouldn’t hesitate to give one a chop if there was a cooper nearby.
     
  • When someone misspells 'whisky' and 'whiskey', you're waiting for your moment to school them.
 
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  • In winter, your fireplace always has some peat burning to make you feel like a distiller.
     
  • You’re retirement fund is maturing in a whisky barrel somewhere in Scotland.