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Issue 55 - Ask the expert

Whisky Magazine Issue 55
April 2006


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Ask the expert

John Rose answers another selection of readers' letters

Q. Could you give me some more information about the regulation of Scotch whisky? Is there an obligatory minimum period of ageing whisky? What is the difference between single malt and blended whisky? What does it mean when 23 years old is stated on the label?

R Toth, Cherbourg, France

A. New spirit has to stay on Scottish soil for a minimum of three years before it can be called Scotch whisky. Single malt means it comes from one distillery only and is stated by name on the label. A bottle of blended whisky contains a mix of single malt whiskies together with a percentage of grain spirit. If a blended whisky states 15 years on the label that means that the youngest spirit in the bottle is at least that age. The age stated on a label (10-20-50 years) is the time the spirit has matured in the cask. When spirit is bottled it will not mature any more, and therefore if a bottle of 20 year malt whisky was kept for 50 years it would still be a 20 year old malt.

Q. I have come across a stoneware bottle of McCallum's Scots Whisky Perfection Blend that is sealed with its contents. The cap seems to be stirling silver and has a patented date believed to be 1930. It has a Washington DC beverage tax stamp on it. How can I go about finding more information?

D Parade, New York

A. D&J McCallum Ltd, 4 Picardy Place, Edinburgh was a blender and exporter of Scotch whisky, started in 1807 by brothers Duncan and John. Their successor Duncan McCallum Stewart, a nephew, saw the potential for ...

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