Today is Nick Offerman’s favorite day (International Scotch Day), so it’s the best day to dip your toes (or lips) into the world of Scotch whisky. Perhaps, when you think about Scotch, you imagine gentleman in old timey garb, slowly sipping the drink while they sit in high backed chairs, smoking Sherlock Holmes-esque pipes. Well, if this is your image of Scotch, you’re really missing out.
If you still want to learn enough about Scotch to buy a bottle and converse socially about this whisky from Scotland, keep reading. It’s a little more grown up than your weekend of Jäger.
What is Scotch?
In the most basic terms, Scotch is whisky (whisky there, whiskey in Ireland) from Scotland (that should be fairly obvious). Scotch can only be made in Scotland the same way that Cognac can only be made in Cognac and Champagne can only be made in Champagne (get it?). You don’t really need to know this, but Scotch is broken up into two main categories: single malt and single grain.
Single malt whisky is made from water and malted barley at one distillery. Single grain whisky is made with water and barley, but can also contain other grains or cereals. The two main subsets are blended malt whisky (whisky made from blends of single malt whisky only) and blended (whisky that contains blends from both malt and grain whiskies). Most Scotch you run into is blended Scotch. This includes: Johnnie Walker, Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark and Chivas.