Welcome to whisky Wednesday. After all the heartbreak stories on the TL lately, it’s clear most of you need some healing. Apart from Jesus, I do not know any better way to heal the heart than with WHISKY. This hypothesis deserves no proof!
Okay, so the word whisky has Gaelic origins, meaning “water of life”. Quite a fitting name for stuff. I even like to go further by describing it as a SPIRITual (pun intended).
The basic question then, how is it made?
PICKED THIS ANSWER ONLINE (and it explains it quite well):
Alcohol is made by fermenting a natural source of sugar with a catalyst, which is usually yeast. As it ferments, the carbohydrates (starch and sugars) in the main source turn into carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol, which is the basis for all alcohol drinks.
The type of natural source of sugar fermented is usually the first stage of differentiating between alcohol types.
Fermenting Grains (barley, wheat, etc.) is the starting point for beer, whisky and vodka (if you include potato)
Fermenting fruits is the starting point for wine, brandy, cognac and champagne.
Fermenting Molasses is the starting point for rum.
What you do after the starting point will determine how the liquor will eventually be named. For whisky, we now know its starting point is the fermentation of grains. Various grains (which may be malted) are used for different varieties, including barley, corn, rye and wheat. These varieties provide one way to classify whisky. Whisky is typically aged in wooden casks, generally made of charred white oak.
These classes and types are strictly regulated worldwide and it will be good that you know them. The typical unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation and ageing in wooden barrels.
Let me end this by touching on how the alcohol content of whisky is measured, i.e. with PROOF or ABV (alcohol by volume). For a given volume of the liquid in the bottle, a certain percentage is pure alcohol. The proof is differentiated from ABV in the sense that it is twice the alcohol (ethanol) content by volume. For example, a whisky with 50% alcohol is 100-proof whisky. Anything 120-proof could contain 60% alcohol and 80-proof means 40% of the liquid is alcohol.