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Issue 120 - Recalibration - The explanation

Whisky Magazine Issue 120
June 2014


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Recalibration - The explanation

Dave takes a look at the fuure for grain whisky

You may recall that a couple of issues back I rambled on about the rye revival, but it is just one element within a recalibration of whisky which is underway thanks to the global nature of the spirit's production. Distillers should always ask questions of themselves, of the spirit they make, of what it can be. The starting point is no longer make a Scotch or Bourbon variant, but arises from a deeper questioning of what whisky is.

Some distillers claim that their exploration of different areas is because they believe they are not as restricted in regulatory terms as Scotch, although it's not that Scotland can't be as radical: Scottish distillers could make whisky from oats or rye, use different yeasts, they just choose not to (or fail to comprehend that they can). That isn't the case around the world.

Here we see a brewing mentality being applied through the use of different roasts of barley and ale yeasts; an understanding of native cereals in the use of spelt, wheat and rye; an investigation into traditional food smoking techniques which sees anything from wood to nettles to sheep dung being used; there's attention being given to oak types (Swiss v American), old beer casks, different woods such as chestnut. All of them are asking these questions in order to make a whisky which is true to their place and in doing so they're widening the opportunities for whisky.

Scotland's latest contribution to this cornucopia of styles appears to be grain whisky. Some of we greybe...

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