A rich history and a strict set of rules make this spirit one of prestige, mystery and exclusivity.
For a long time, most things that Scotland produced were either unfairly taxed by the English or just flat out stolen. One of the most heavily taxed products in Scottish history was their whisky. Traditionally made in the south, whisky production spread further north into the valleys and islands in an attempt to escape taxation from the English.
Made from malted barley, Scottish whisky is available in the more refined single malt or the cheaper and easier to produce blended version. At the moment, the entire world is losing itself over single malts, with incredible bars popping up dedicated solely to the spirit and the mystery behind it.
It’s important, at this point, to make a distinction between single malts and blends. Blended whisky is generally a little lower in quality, owing to it having a neutral grain whisky that acts as a filler, making the product cheaper to produce and easier to create consistently across massive production demands. Added to this filler is whisky that comes from a multitude of different distilleries.
A single malt, by comparison, is from a single distillery and only contains malted barley. Geography plays a large part in the flavour of single malts and styles have developed in each region. Islay whiskies, for instance, are typified by their smoky characteristics, owing to their use of peat in the smoking process. The Highlands region is much lighter, moving through to Speyside, which produces the largest amount of single malt.
Due to the subtle nuances that distillers strive to impart onto their single malts, these characteristics can often be lost when mixed. For the most part, blended whiskies are best enjoyed with mixers such as soda, dry ginger and Pepsi. Single malts are best enjoyed alone, sometimes with a dash of water to make them more accessible to the palate.