Firstly – Whiskey or Whisky?
Growing up and living in Ireland, to me it’s whiskey. If I were to ask my Scottish friend however, he would no doubt inform me that it is, in fact, whisky.
And then we’d probably use it to forget that we ever had that argument.
One theory is that the ‘e’ is dropped when translated from Scottish Gaelic, whereas it is kept when translated from Gaeilge – uisce beatha.
That said, whiskeys (or whiskies) from America are called whiskey while whiskies (or whiskeys) from Canada are called whisky. This could lend to the theory because of the influence of Scotland on Canada and Ireland on America. Confused yet?
Long story short, in America and Ireland it’s whiskey while in Scotland and Canada it’s whisky.
Famous Distilleries in Scotland
#1 – The Glenlivet Distillery
Situated in Speyside, widely considered the home of Scottish single malt whisky, The Glenlivet Distillery has an award winning visitor experience. A favorite whisky of Charles Dickens, it is very popular in America with about half of their single malt produced yearly being sold there. This distillery is also situated on the famous Speyside Way Whisky Trail giving a unique opportunity to combine hiking with visits to the 20 distilleries located along the route.
#2 – The Dalmore Distillery
Legend has it that in 1263, the Chief of the Mackenzie Clan saved King Alexander III from a charging stag and as a reward, Alexander gave the Mackenzie’s the right to use the 12 pointed royal stag on their coat of arms. That emblem has now become the Dalmore icon and this rich history combined with their unique, century old, relationship with the Gonzalez Byass Sherry House from Andalucia has resulted in a truly legendary whisky. Dalmore’s use of exclusive sherry casks gives a special character and flavor that just has to be tasted and the distillery can be found just north of Inverness in Alness.
#3 – Glengoyne Distillery
Glengoyne is unique in producing Highland whisky in the Scottish Lowlands. This is because it is situated on the Highland Line which is the division between the Lowlands and Highlands of Scotland. Glengoyne whisky is produced in the stills located in the Highlands before being transported across the road to the Lowlands to mature in casks. Glengoyne also has the distinction of being located on the first section of the West Highland Way, one of the most popular hiking trials in the world. The equally famous Ben Nevis Distillery is also conveniently located at the end of the West Highland Way in Fort William.
Famous Distilleries in Ireland
#1 – Old Bushmills Distillery
Sir Thomas Phillips is granted permission, and a licence, to distill.
176 years later, The Old Bushmills distillery is officially registered and trademarked.
A tax is introduced on malt. Many distilleries switch to cheaper alternative ingredients. Bushmills stick to their tried and tested recipe.
FIRE. The distillery is destroyed, but rebuilt.
Prohibition finally ends, meaning the American market is now wide open.
1939 to 1945
All production ceases to help with the Second World War effort.
Bushmills celebrate 400 years in existence.
As well as offering a great visitor experience, this distillery produces some fine whiskeys such as Black Bush and 21 year Single Malt.
If you take a trip to Antrim, the Bushmills distillery is right up there with the Giant’s Causeway as a worthwhile experience.
#2 – New Midleton Distillery
The New Midleton Distillery is a full-scale working distillery which doesn’t offer tours. However, the Old Midleton Distillery just next door does.
Production was moved from the old to the new building in 1975, which is where they currently make Jameson among many others.
The old distillery offers a great visitor centre, known as the Jameson Experience, and is definitely worth a visit should you happen to be in Cork.
#3 – Old Jameson Distillery
Can you guess what they make in the Old Jameson Distillery?
Similar to the Old Midleton Distillery, they do offer tours which has proven to be a top attraction in Dublin and this isn’t surprising given the popularity of this world famous whiskey which has been in production since 1780.
Irish Whiskey Trails
For hardcore whiskiers, you can follow the Irish Whiskey Trail which will bring you to all of the major distilleries in Ireland.
These include the aforementioned ones as well as the Dingle distillery along the Dingle Way.
What’s a Tasting?
If you find yourself enthralled by all of this whiskey talk, you may even want to conduct your own tasting.
Not something to be daunted by, a tasting is a great way to learn more about this drink.
Connoisseurs and not-so-connoisseurs alike, a tasting is a fantastic opportunity to expand your expertise.
And to drink some whiskey, of course.
But where would you even start?
#1 – Glassware
Nothing says “I have no idea what I’m doing” like serving whiskey from a wine glass.
Some proper glasses will make a good first impression on your guests and set a good tone for the evening.
A glass that has a wide bottom and narrows towards the top is ideal as this allows the whiskey’s aroma to get captured and appreciated in full.
Just make sure that your glasses are odourless and washing-up liquid free.
#2 – Water
Have plenty of water available. This one is sort of self-explanatory.
#3 – Food
No food + lots of whiskey = recipe for disaster.
There are some great combinations that will make the tasting that little bit more enjoyable, because food makes everything better.
#4 – Quantity
Firstly, don’t put too much in one glass. You want your guests to remember the third and fourth whiskey that they taste.
Secondly don’t serve so many that your guests forget they were ever at a tasting.