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Section 1: The World's Leading Drink

What is Scotch Whisky?

Scotch Whisky is a distillate made in Scotland from the elements of cereals. water and yeast, all of which nature will in due course replace.

Is Scotch Whisky the world's leading drink?

Yes. It outsells every other noble spirit in world markets.

When consumers ask for a Scotch, what exactly do they mean?

They usually mean a blended Scotch Whisky, that is a blend of as many as 50 individual Scotch Malt and Scotch Grain Whiskies. The wide range of single whiskies available in Scotland ensures the continued high quality and consistency of brands of blended Scotch Whisky and year in year out, enables blenders to ensure that all their brands maintain their individual characteristics. Blended whiskies account for more than 95 per cent of all Scotch Whisky sold in world markets.

What is a single whisky?

It is the product of a single distillery. Most distilleries produce Scotch Whisky primarily for the purpose of blending, but many retain some of their production for sale as single whiskies. A single Malt Whisky is the product of one Malt Whisky distillery and a single Grain Whisky is the product of one Grain Whisky distillery.

What is the legal definition of Scotch Whisky?

Scotch Whisky has been defined in United Kingdom (UK) law since 1909 and recognised in European Community legislation since 1989. The current UK legislation relating specifically to Scotch Whisky is The Scotch Whisky Act 1988 and the Orders made under it. which came into effect in June 1990 and superseded that part of the Finance Act 1969. as subsequently amended, defining Scotch Whisky.

For the purposes of The Scotch Whisky Act 1988 "Scotch Whisky'' means whisky

which has been produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added) all of which have been
processed at that distillery into a mash;
converted to a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems; and
fermented only by the addition of yeast;
which has been distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8 per cent so that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production;
which has been matured in an excise warehouse in Scotland in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres, the period of that maturation being not less than 3 years;
which retains the colour. aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production and maturation; and
to which no substance other than water and spirit caramel has been added. The Scotch Whisky Act 1988 prohibits inter alia the production in Scotland of whisky other than Scotch Whisky.
The Scotch Whisky Act 1988 and European Community (EC) legislation both specify a minimum alcoholic strength of 40 per cent by volume, which applies to all Scotch Whisky bottled and/or put up for sale within or exported from the Community.

However, transitional arrangements allow whiskies which do not comply with the EC Spirit Drinks Regulation, including those at an alcoholic strength lower than 40 per cent by volume, to be bottled unti! 14th December 1990 provided that their preparation had begun before 15th June 1990. These whiskies may continue to be sold by wholesale or retail until 14th December 1991 and thereafter by retailers until such time as the stock they held on 14th December 1991 is exhausted .

What is a Blended Scotch Whisky?

A Blended Scotch Whisky is a blend of a number of distillates each of which separately is entitled to the description "Scotch Whisky".

The period for which any blended Scotch Whisky is regarded as having been matured is that of the most recently distilled of the spirits contained in the blend.

Which spelling is correct, Whisky or Whiskey?

Most well-known dictionaries give both spellings. The Oxford English Dictionary points out that 'in modern trade usage, Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey are thus distinguished in spelling'. American-made whiskey is usually spelt with an 'e'.

What is the difference between Scotch, Irish, Rye and Bourbon Whiskies?

Scotch Whisky means whisky distilled and matured in Scotland and Irish Whiskey means whiskey distilled and matured in Ireland. Whisky is distilled in Scotland from malted barley in Pot Stills and from malted and unmalted barley or other cereals in Patent Stills. The well- known brands of Scotch Whisky are blends of a number of Pot Still and Patent Still whiskies. Irish Whiskey distillers tend to favour three distillations rather than two as is general in Scotland in the case of Pot Still whiskies and the range of cereals used is wider.

As regards Bourbon Whiskey, the United States Regulations provide:

that Bourbon Whiskey must be produced from a mash of not less than 51% corn grain.
that the word 'Bourbon' shall not be used to describe any whiskey or whiskey-based distilled spirits not produced in the United States . '
Rye Whiskey is produced both in the United States and Canada but the name has no geographical significance. In the United States. Rye Whiskey by definition must be produced from a grain mash of which not less than 51% is rye grain. In Canada, there is no similar restriction. The relevant Canadian Regulation states: 'Canadian Whisky (Canadian Rye Whisky, Rye Whisky) shall be whisky distilled in Canada, and shall possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian Whisky.' Canadian Whisky is in fact often referred to simply as Rye Whisky or Rye.

What are spirits?

The term spirits describes the product of distillation, whatever the raw materials, or whether it be in a pure state or contaminated by impurities normally present in any distillate. Generally. the word refers to any volatile inflammable liquid obtained by distillation.

Spirits for human consumption. or potable spirits, are the distillates of alcoholic liquids, the alcohol in which has been formed by the fermentation of sugar as contained in grapejuice, sugar-cane. etc., or in saccharified materials such as specially prepared cereals, e.g. malted barley.

© SWA 1995