Scotch is one of many items the Scots can claim as their own. The best in the world according to the Scots, although the Australians and Canadians make versions of their own they are very proud of too. The Irish claim theirs is just as good, if not better.
Scotch was originally made from fermented malted barley. It is aged for at least 3 years in an oak wooden barrel, called a cask. It must have an ABV (Alcohol By Volume) less than 94.8%. Most scotch has an ABV of 40-46% unless it is straight from the cask and then it is 60-63%. Undiluted scotch coming out of the cask may be labeled “Cask Strength” and is among the highest sought of all whiskeys.
Scotch comes in five different varieties. The first is just scotch, made from malted barley. Single Grain scotch means it was made from a different grain such as Rye or Wheat. There is blended malt scotch, made from at at least one, malted barley and one other grain, also malted. Blended grain scotch comes from two or more grains, like rye and wheat, mixed together. And last but not least is blended scotch which comes from several grains mixed with barley, all malted.
The first mention of Scotch came in 1495 in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland. It apparently was distilled by a Friar John Cor at the Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife. It was only available in malted barley but that changed in the 18th century when it began to be produced commercially where wheat and rye were added. It was called “Ulsge Beatha” or “Water of Life”.
Today one of the most respected and top awarded scotches is made by Old Pulteney. Some bottles sell for over $800.00. The most expensive I found was Yamazaki which sold for $13,430.00 a bottle.
Of course there are many choices and even the American brands sell well. It is really up to you which you prefer.
I am told of a tradition that occurred in Scotland for years that I believe is now banned – Partners would team up and have a drink at a pub before moving on to the next, which wasn’t all that far away. The trick was, one partner had to ride in a wheel-barrow while the other pushed it to the next tavern. Upon having a drink there, the partners would reverse rolls and continue on to the their next destination. It would be funny to see this race after the teams had stopped at ten or eleven taverns! (I think it was a wheel-barrow, but it may have been a bathtub).
How to celebrate – Enjoy a shot of scotch, straight up! Taste the difference in the way scotch is made and see which you prefer. Have your own wheel-barrow race, but make sure you get police approval first.