27 July 2023
National Scotch Day 2023
In celebration of National Scotch Day 2023, we at MacInnes wanted to share with you just what makes Scotch whisky so remarkable, and why it is, and will always remain, our spirit of choice.
The Beauty of Scotch Whisky
For Scotch is more than simply a beverage to be enjoyed by the fire on a cold winter's evening. It inspires romance, and evokes tales of heritage, craftsmanship and culture, spanning back hundreds of years and countless generations. It both unites and divides a country, split into five unique regions, each one famed for its own distinct taste and perspective.
From the Lowlands to the Highlands, the southernmost strand of the Argyll Peninsula, to the windswept headlands of the Inner Hebrides. The dark waters and fertile glens of Speyside complete the journey; a journey rich in both geographical variety and biodiversity.
It is surely these varied landscapes and unique ecosystems that play such a part in cultivating the vast array of aromas, notes and flavours that draw enthusiasts from around the world.
The History of Scotch Whisky
Regardless of which region your dram of choice hails from, its history will span centuries. The earliest documented record of distilling in Scotland occurred in 1494 in the tax records of the day, the Exchequer Rolls.
An entry lists “Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae.”
Aqua Vitae loosely translates to ‘water of life’, or Uisge Beatha in Gaelic, from where our modern-day “Whisky” derives.
It is unclear who first invented this amber elixir, with the debate over invention proprietorship spanning back as far as the spirit itself. The Irish say it came from the Christian monks returning from Arabia in 600 AD, though there is some evidence to suggest distillation came directly to Scotland from the Christian missionary monks. There’s even been a suggestion that the Vikings discovered the art of whisky distillation during their multiple Syrian raids.
With no real way of either proving or refuting these claims, the debate lives on.
What Makes Scotch Whisky Unique?
Not dissimilar to how Champagne must be produced in the Champagne region of France to be constituted as such; Scotch whisky must be produced in its entirety in Scotland. But that is not all that makes Scotch whisky unique, for Scotch has its own set of specifications and it’s these unique requirements that result in the nuanced spirit we know and love.
As already mentioned, the whisky must be fermented, distilled, and aged in Scotland, but the ingredients used are equally important. Scotch whisky must be made using malted barley, water and yeast, although Scotch producers are also allowed to include other cereal grains for colouring. The spirit is required to have an ABV of less than 94.8% and be aged using oak barrels for at least three years with the youngest whisky blended in that bottle being at least as old as the displayed age statement.
There is also robust legal protection over Scotch – vital in safeguarding its quality. These comprehensive rules govern the Scotch Whisky industry – you can find out more here.
Whisky or Whiskey?
When referring to Scotch whisky, the word whisky does not contain an ‘e’. This spelling is also used when describing whiskies produced in Australia, Canada and Japan.
Irish whiskey is spelt with an ‘e’ , and it is likely to be Ireland’s strong connection to the United States and the mass immigration of the 19th and 20th century that explains why bourbon and other whiskies produced in North America are also spelt with an ‘e’.
Why we choose Scotch
Perhaps we choose Scotch Whisky for the dramatic, rugged landscape from which it is moulded.
Perhaps we choose it for its heritage and the centuries of Scottish craftsmanship distilled into that one fireside sip.
The cynical amongst us may even say that we choose Scotch whisky simply because it’s the best-performing asset of the past decade, with the Global whisky market set to be worth £73 billion in 2025…
Perhaps. But we’ll let you decide for yourself.
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