Whiskey: Bourbon versus Scotch

008The spelling of the word itself is debated, whiskey or whisky, with whiskey with an “e”, usually referring to Irish or American whiskies, while whisky, without the “e”, is used by pretty much every other country, especially Canada and Scotland. Whiskey comes in a multitude of varieties, each with their own particular flavor. Two of the most popular types of whiskey are bourbon and Scotch. Whiskey can also be categorized as single malt whiskey, blended whiskey, or single-barrel whiskey. All types of whiskey are made from a fermented grain mash. Different types of whiskey use different types of grains, like barley, malted barley, rye, wheat, and corn. After being distilled, whiskey is usually aged in wooden barrels, which are often made from charred white oak.

Bourbon is an American whiskey that is made from a mash that consists of at least 51% corn. Other American whiskies include corn whiskey, rye whiskey, and wheat whiskey, all of which get their name from being made from at least 51% of a particular grain. There are many regulations that American whiskies must comply with, such as they cannot be distilled more than 80% alcohol by volume and barreled at no more than 125 proof. If it is aged for two years or more, it is also labeled as straight, such as a straight bourbon whiskey.

Scotch whisky, like bourbon, has many regulations that it has to obey in order to be defined as Scotch whisky. It has to be produced at a distillery in Scotland and be made from water and malted barley, along with being matured in Scotland in oak casks for at least three years. Scotch must also have a minimum strength of 40% alcohol by volume. Within the Scotch whisky family, there are five different types, such as single malt and single grain Scotch whisky. These two basic types of Scotch whisky can then be blended to make: blended malt Scotch whisky (two or more single malt Scotch whiskies), blended grain Scotch whisky (two or more single grain Scotch whiskies), or a blended Scotch whisky (blend of one or more single malts with one or more single grains).

Scotch whiskies have a smoky taste that comes from drying the malted barley with peat smoke. This peat smoke gives Scotch its distinctive flavor. Bourbon on the other hand usually has a sweeter and smoother taste that comes from the corn used in its mash. Both of these types of whiskies make for a great drink. Next time you go out for a drink, try both and decide which one you like better. Leave me comment and let me know which kind of whiskey you prefer. Cheers!


Rogue Oregon Single Malt Whiskey

003There is a new trend in the way whiskey is aged, it’s called ocean aging. Ocean aging is when the whiskey is placed in oak barrels and those oak barrels are placed on large ships where they will age for a period of just a few months up to a few years. The idea behind ocean aging is that the salt air, oceanic pressure, extreme heat, and rolling movement of the waves will age the whiskey much faster than it would if it were aged on land.

I recently picked up a bottle of Rogue Oregon Single Malt Whiskey, which happens to have been ocean aged for three months. This was my first experience with an ocean aged whiskey. This whiskey has a surprisingly dark color for being aged for only 3 months. It has kind of a hazy appearance to it. The nose has a strong aroma of cinnamon with a salty ocean smell to it also. The salty ocean smell kind of scared me to be honest. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I tasted it. The flavor is similar to the aroma, with a hint of sweet cinnamon combined with a salty ocean taste. This whiskey also has the flavor of a scotch whiskey with a mild smoky taste, which comes from twelve percent of the malt used in this whiskey being hand-smoked using Alder and Maple chips.

Overall, Rogue Oregon Single Malt Whiskey was an interesting drink but the salty ocean aroma and flavor are not what I’m looking for in my whiskey. The ocean aging concept is an interesting idea, but the end result is not very appealing, to me anyways. I’ve read some reviews on another brand of whiskey that was ocean aged for three and a half years and the reviews were all positive and didn’t mention the salty brine tasted that I noticed in the Rogue Oregon Single Malt Whiskey. It seems that aging it longer, even on the ocean, reduces the salty taste and imparts plenty of the flavors from the oak. I probably won’t buy this one again, especially considering it was $45. If you have ever tried Rogue Oregon Single Malt Whiskey or any other ocean aged whiskey, leave me a comment and let me know what you thought.

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