Scotch is scotch, right?
Yes and no. How Scotch whisky is labeled and how we refer to said whisky on the label has been a contentious debate for as long as we have had whisky. Scotch whisky? Scotch malt whisky? Scotch grain whisky? Blended Scotch whisky? Single-malt whisky? Single-grain whisky? Pure malt whisky? Vatted malt whisky?
And then when we add definers such as Fine Old, Rare Old, Choice Old, Extra Special, Special Reserve, Aged, Finest, Oldest Matured; none of which actually define the age or quality of the whisky! It’s enough to make your head spin.
There are several laws currently defining how we label the water of life. Scotch whisky is whisky if:
A. The whisky has been produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only the whole grains of other cereals have been added) all of which have been:
1) processed at that distillery into a mash
2) converted to a fermentable substrate only by natural enzyme systems
3) fermented only by the addition of yeast
B. It has been distilled no higher than 94.8 proof so that it retains aromas and tastes of the production and ingredients used.
C. It has been matured for no less than 3 years in barrels no larger than 700 liters.
D. No substance other than water or caramel coloring has been added.
So how do those of us who just want to enjoy a dram sort it all out?