When people think of fine whisky, their minds typically turn to Scotland. This wild at windy country, battered by the north sea and dotted with mountains, lochs and moors, has been the home of high-quality whisky for over six hundred years. During this time, it has forged a reputation over these centuries which has proven difficult to beat, and which has influenced the rest of the world, from America to Japan and beyond.
The term Scotch refers to either malt or grain whisky, which must be made in one of Scotland’s specified whisky regions, with practices and techniques strictly controlled by a series of stringent regulations. One such regulation is that Scotch must be aged for a minimum of three years, and that the age of the whisky must be clearly printed on the bottle. The quality and style of whisky varies quite significantly from place to place, with certain regions producing light and grassy whisky styles, and others using time-honored practices such as burning peat (a type of moorland soil) during the fermentation to imbue a smoky, earthy character.
There are five categories of Scotch, and each has its own set of distinctive characteristics and typical flavors and aromas. These are single malt Scotch (often referred to as the connoisseur's choice), blended malt Scotch, single grain Scotch, blended grain Scotch and blended Scotch whisky.