A glass of Scotch by the fireplace on a cold winter evening is one of the best ways to beat the chill, right? Needless to say, Scotland has produced some of the finest whiskeys the world has ever seen!

Distillation of Scotch 

It can only be distilled to 94.8% alcohol by volume (ABV), which is much higher than bourbon. However, it has to be bottled at minimum 40% ABV, but can be bottled at cask strength too, where no water is added after aging to bring the ABV down. 

Aging of Scotch 

Scotch has to be aged in oak casks, generally previously used ones, for a minimum of 3 years.

Types of Scotch

Single Malt

Single malt Scotch is an aged whiskey made by a single distillery using only malted barley and water. It doesn’t contain any other cereals, and must be distilled, produced and bottled in Scotland.

Double/Triple Malt

These terms actually don’t exist – when you hear of double malt or triple malt Scotch, it means that the single malt Scotch has been aged in two or more types of casks. That correct way to refer to them is double wood or triple wood. Despite being aged in multiple casks, it is still in the single malt category.

Single Grain

It starts out with water and malted barley but then has additional whole grains or cereals added to it which prevents it from complying with the laws that would permit it to be called single malt. It has to be bottled in Scotland for it to be considered as Scotch. It is this type of Scotch that most blended Scotch whiskey is made from:

  • Blended Scotch - It is made from at least one or more single malt Scotch whiskeys that are blended together with a single grain Scotch whiskey.

  • Blended Malt Scotch – Previously known at vatted malt or pure malt, it is made when the blender takes two or more single malt Scotch whiskeys from at least two separate distilleries and combines them to create one batch of whiskey.

  • Blended Grain Scotch – Similar to blended malt, it utilizes two or more single grain Scotch whiskeys from at least two separate distilleries. They are blended together for a single batch of whiskey.

Flavors of Scotch 

Scotch is produced in a handful of distinct regions, with distilling traditions and environmental conditions heavily influencing its final flavor. A major factor you notice immediately as you get into Scotch is whether it has been peated – which means the malted barley has been dried over a peat fire, which gives it a smoky, oily, and even campfirey flavor (among others). Peat can act as a dividing line in Scotch appreciation. As mentioned, it is aged in previously used barrels and casks that have been utilized for other liquors like Sherry, Port, Madeira, wine, rum, brandy, bourbon, and so on. This aspect plays a vital role in the flavor as well. 

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