A Spirited Discussion: The Cultural Differences Between Whiskies

What’s in a name? When it comes to whiskey, apparently, a lot.

That which is one letter off may seem like just another run-on-the-mill transatlantic spelling difference, and the English lexicon has many of them, so for those familiar enough with the transatlantic differences in English dialect, whisky may sound like an Americanization whereas whiskey is the one native to the British Isles. This is actually backwards.

Image source: scotchmaltwhisky.co.uk
                            Image source: scotchmaltwhisky.co.uk

Not only do these spelling differences refer to specific types of drink, the longer word “whiskey” is the one currently used in America. “Whisky” is native to the island of Great Britain (specifically Scotland, from whence it received its alternate name, Scotch) and has currency in Canada and Japan.

The spelling difference between whisky and whiskey is largely the result of a difference between how the spirit is spelled in the Scottish Gaelic and Irish languages. That which is spelled “whisky” refers to the Scottish variant whereas the ones spelled “whiskey” refers to an Irish derivative, which gained currency in the United States through Irish immigrants.

Image source: irelandwanderer.com
                                      Image source: irelandwanderer.com

The differences between the three main traditions of the spirit go beyond just a letter. Irish whiskeys tend to be smoother affairs due to being typically being distilled thrice (as opposed to American whiskeys and Scottish whiskies, which are distilled twice). Scotch whiskies use a wide variety of stills (and a more diverse set of flavors) whereas Irish and many American ones prefer rounded ones and have typically softer flavors as a result.

Moreover, whereas Scotch whiskies are based on solely on barley, Irish and American whiskeys use blends of grains unique to their nations of origin. Irish whiskeys incorporate barley and any number of other grains due to its historically poor agrarian economy, whereas American whiskeys use entirely different raw materials as a whole.

Former tech startup operative Adam Quirk is the co-founder of craft distillery Cardinal Spirits, which produces premium spirits using locally acquired ingredients. For more discussion about the distilled beverage industry, follow this Tumblr blog.

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Engineering The Single Malt Whiskey

Image source: siphigh.com
Image source: siphigh.com

Scotland’s “other national drink” has many styles, depending on the type and preparation method of the grain used. There’s Scotch, Irish, rye, and bourbon. But the two different whiskies that divide some of the drinkers are single malts and blends.

While comparing the two will always be a subjective matter, those who prefer to have their palate touched by varying tastes and textures, single malt whiskey is the prime choice.

For five centuries, the basic ingredients of a single malt whiskey have been water and barley, a product of the expansive grain fields of Scottish Highlands. The barley grain, which contains starch or sugar, is steeped in water and allowed to germinate on malting floors to produce malt sugar.

The malt is then milled to flour while the sugar is extracted with hot water. The liquid solution is then fermented for two to four days resulting to a wash that contains eight to nine percent alcohol.

With the use of heat, the wash is distilled twice in long and slim copper pot stills to yield 65 to 70 percent alcohol. Some distilleries use a third pot still to make the alcohol even purer at more than 75 percent.

Image source: thewhiskycorporation.sg
Image source: thewhiskycorporation.sg

The spirit is matured in breathable and durable oak casks. Single malt whiskies are usually aged for at least 10 years – the longer, the better. The taste of the whiskey depends on the origin and type of the oak wood used for the cask.

Adam Quirk co-founded Cardinal Spirits, a Bloomington-based craft distillery that produced the Indiana’s first craft single malt whiskey using malted barley from Lebanon, Indiana. Subscribe to this blog for more interesting read about spirits and liquors.

Brewing Success: The Early Years Of American Craft Beer

The American brewing landscape started to take shape during the 1970s, when beer traditions and styles from other countries and imported drinks were losing ground in the market. Marketing campaigns at that time shifted Americans’ preference to low calorie light beer.

Corn-2Image source: blog.virginia.org

While the beer industry was effectively being remolded, a grassroots home brewing culture was emerging. What first started as a hobby to experience the said beer tradition and styles from across the world thrived to become what is now the craft brewery or microbrewery industry.

cropped-frontpageImage source: britman.riversideinnovationcentre.co.uk

It all started in 1965, when Fritz Maytag purchased and revived Anchor Brewing Company. He maintained the original beer traditions that consumers loved for its uniqueness. Several beer enthusiasts started to follow suit by starting their own breweries with the intent of introducing more beer flavors and styles to the public.

Craft brewing experienced a renaissance in the mid-70s when the New Albion Brewery in California was established. Though the company had to close after just six years, its operation inspired hundreds of home brewers.

By 1980s, the quality of craft beers continued to improve, gaining even more popularity and becoming the choice drink of a larger share of consumers. Even with challenging market conditions, the foundation was set for more than 2,500 craft breweries now in the country.

Adam Quirk is a co-founder of Cardinal Spirits, an Indiana craft distillery that is founded on a passion for American manufacturing and excellent spirits. Read more about craft brewery by visiting this website.

Bottoms Up: Easy Gin Cocktail Recipes

Light and versatile, gin is a juniper-based spirit that pairs well with pretty much anything from fruits and herbs to sodas, juices, and other more complex liquor. Here are some of the many ways to enjoy this classic spirit.

Cucumber Gin Lemonade
This refreshing recipe has a tart and semi-sweet flavor perfect for hot summer afternoons. To make this cocktail, combine lemon juice, cucumber juice, gin, and simple syrup in a tall glass. Top it off with club soda, lots of ice, and some lemon and cucumber slices.

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Image source: popsugar.com

Apricot Passion
Made with apricot glaze and passion fruit juice drink, this gin-based cocktail is very fruity and tangy. The recipe is very simple – just stir all the ingredients in a glass and add a little bit of lime juice and crushed ice.

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Image source: beautyandthedirt.com

Rhubarb Sour
This flavorful cocktail is made with gin, triple sec, rhubarb syrup, and lemon juice. One egg white is also added to create a frothy layer that complements the sweetness of the rhubarb and the sourness of the lemon juice.

Gin and Mint
This cool and refreshing gin cocktail is very easy to make. Simply stir gin, mint, and cucumber slices in a glass. Then, add chilled elderflower pressé, some ice cubes, more mint leaves, and a slice of lemon.

Adam Quirk is the co-founder of Cardinal Spirits, a craft distillery producing premium craft gin among many other craft liquors. Follow this Twitter account for more updates.