Doctor's Notes

Whiskey Basics Vol. 7: Basic Whiskey Terms & Definitions

Jun 12, 2024

Whiskey is a complex spirit with a rich history and many different varieties. Whether you're a whiskey connoisseur or just starting out, it's important to know the basic and advanced terms associated with this spirit. In this article, we'll break down 20 of the most common terms and phrases related to whiskey, grouped into "basic terms" and "advanced terms."

Basic Terms:

  1. Whiskey - a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash.
  2. Bourbon - a type of American whiskey made from at least 51% corn and aged in new, charred oak barrels.
  3. Scotch - a type of whiskey made in Scotland, usually aged for at least three years in oak barrels.
  4. Rye - a type of whiskey made from a mash that contains at least 51% rye grain.
  5. Barrel - a container used to age whiskey, typically made of oak.
  6. Age statement - the number of years a whiskey has been aged, as specified on the label.
  7. Proof - a measure of the alcohol content of whiskey, expressed as twice the percentage of alcohol by volume.
  8. Mash bill - the combination of grains used to make the whiskey.

Nerdy Terms:

  1. Angel's share - the portion of whiskey that is lost to evaporation during aging.
  2. Cask strength - whiskey that is bottled straight from the barrel without any dilution.
  3. Finish - the final stage of the aging process, during which the whiskey takes on additional flavor and character from the barrel.
  4. Nose - the aroma of the whiskey, typically evaluated by smelling it before drinking.
  5. Single malt - a type of Scotch whiskey made from 100% malted barley and produced by a single distillery.
  6. Blended whiskey - a whiskey made by blending different types of whiskey together.
  7. Terroir - the environmental factors that influence the flavor of the whiskey, such as the type of grain and water used.
  8. Tasting notes - the flavors and aromas detected during a whiskey tasting.
  9. Cooperage - the craft of barrel making.
  10. Backset - a portion of the mash from a previous distillation that is added to the next batch to help regulate pH levels.
  11. Sour mash - a process used in whiskey production where a portion of the mash from a previous batch is added to the next batch to help control the pH level.
  12. Non-chill filtered - whiskey that has not been chilled before filtering, which can lead to a fuller flavor and aroma.

In conclusion, knowing the basic and advanced terms associated with whiskey can help you better appreciate and understand this complex spirit. From the mash bill to the nose, each term plays a vital role in the production and enjoyment of whiskey. So, whether you're a seasoned whiskey drinker or just starting out, take the time to learn these terms and explore the world of whiskey.

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