I recently revisited Scotch whisky and Iím so glad I did. Further research led me to all sorts of interesting tidbits and some truly delicious cocktail recipes using this very British spirit thought to have its origin in the days of the Ancient Celts.
Those ancients of Celtic origin called their distilled elixir uisge beatha, or water of life, and uisge eventually became the word whisky we use today.
Christian monasteries distilled whisky in Scotland at least as far back as the 11th century.
Scotch whisky is made only in Scotland.
Scotch whisky has no letter e in the word nor does Japanese whisky; whiskies made elsewhere (Ireland, the US, Canada, for instance) spell whiskey with an e.
Scotch is traditionally made from malted (germinated) barley.
The characteristic smoky flavor in Scotch is a result of drying barley over peat fires.
Single malt Scotch is made from only barley and, by law of the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 (SWR), the only other ingredients allowed are water and plain caramel coloring, although the coloring agent is optional. All whiskies used in a single malt whisky must come from the same distillery.
Scotch whiskies with the words grain or blended on their labels may combine whiskies made at various distilleries and may use grains other than barley.
To be a true Scotch, the whisky must age in a wooden cask for at least three years and one day to earn the official designation Scotch whisky; in addition to the aging process, all the very exacting standards established by the SWR must also be adhered to.
The number on Scotch bottle labels indicates the youngest whisky in the bottle; it may be blended with older Scotch whisky from the same or other distilleries but the youngest component is listed on the label - 8 years old, 10 years, 20, etc.
The older the Scotch, according to the age number on the label, the more rare it is and therefore the more expensive.
Enjoyed in Scotland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom for centuries, the popularity of Scotch whisky spread to the Continent and beyond only after 1880, after invasion of the phylloxera louse decimated grapevines and devastated Franceís wine and cognac industries.
Scotch aficionados drink their whisky with little or no mixers. Scotch on the rocks offers a more refreshing sip than Scotch served straight, neat, or up (all terms meaning poured straight from the bottle and into the glass with no ice or other ingredients added).
Scotch with a splash comes with a splash of water but just a splash, over ice or not.
Scotch and soda makes a nice highball, with a shot of Scotch served over ice in a glass filled with club soda or seltzer.
Scotch with a twist asks for a twist of lemon peel, yellow part only, added to the soda or water. Give the lemon peel a little twist before adding it to the drink, to release the zesty lemon oil. Some people like a maraschino cherry in addition to or instead of the lemon.
Rob Roy Cocktail Recipe
Similar to a Manhattan, the Rob Roy can be served in a chilled cocktail glass or over ice. Itís named after Robert Roy MacGregor (1671 - 1734), the Scottish ĎRobin Hoodí immortalized in film, literature, and Scottish legend.
1 jigger / shot of Scotch whisky
1 pony (roughly half a jigger) sweet (red) vermouth
1 splash Angostura bitters
Shake everything together in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and strain. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Clansman Coffee Cocktail Recipe
This cocktail adds a little Celtic charm to your iced coffee.
Frost the rim of a large cocktail glass or goblet by wiping a sliced lemon around the rim and then dipping the rim into a saucer containing a shallow layer of brown sugar.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add:
1 jigger / shot of Scotch whisky
1 splash of Sambuca or other anise-flavored liqueur
1 cup of cold coffee (hot stuff will melt the ice too quickly and dilute the drink)
Shake to combine ingredients then strain it into the frosted cocktail glass.
Top the glass with whipped cream and a sprinkle of grated chocolate