A blended whiskey is the product of blending different types of whiskies. It is generally the product of mixing one or more single malt whiskies (made from 100 percent malted grain such as barley or rye) together with other grain whiskies or neutral grain spirits.
Bourbon is an American whiskey made predominantly in the southern United States and is made primarily of corn. Federal regulations stipulate Bourbon must meet the following requirements:
Bourbon must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn.
Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof.
Bourbon must be 100% natural (nothing other than water added to the mixture).
Bourbon must be aged in new American charred barrels for at least two years.
Brandy is made by distilling wine or fruit and then aging the product in oak barrels. Brandy has been an extremely popular drink for hundreds of years and is most often enjoyed as an after-dinner drink.
Cognac (KOHN-yak) is a brandy that is produced in the Cognac region of France. The majority of Cognacs are made from the Ugni Blanc grape (also known as St. Emilion). The production of cognac involves distilling the product twice in small copper pot stills and aged in oak casks for at least 30 months. Virutally all cognacs are blends containing several cognacs.
Cognac producers use a lettering system rather production year to describe the cognac to the customer. The letters describe the youngest cognac in the blend. The following are examples you will see in our stores:
V.S. - Very Superior (Aged 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 years)
V.S.O.P. - Very Superior Old Pale (Aged 4 to 6 1/2 years)
X.O. - Extremely Old (Aged 5 1/2 to 40 years)
Gin is a spirit flavored with juniper berries. Each distiller has its own spices and herbs to give their product its own flavor. The most popular style of gin is London dry gin. Almost all gins on our shelves are labeled "dry". This refers to a gin that has not been sweetened. One of the most popular mixed drinks using gin is the martini. A martini consists of 3 ounces of gin and dry vermouth (the less vermouth used, the "dryer" the martini).
All Irish whiskey is distlled three times in copper pot stills. Irish whiskey must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years. These oak barrels have previously been used to age sherry, brandy, bourbon or rum.
Cordials & Liqueurs
The term cordial and liqueur are often used interchangeably. Cordials and liqueurs are usually sweet in taste. Liqueurs are usually flavored with herbs and cordials are generally prepared with fruit pulp or juices. Most cordials and liqueurs contain 17-30% alcohol by volume ( or 34-60 proof).
Liqueurs are often labeled either "after dinner drinks" or "apertifs". An after dinner drink is of course consumed after dinner with the purpose of aiding digestion and/or savoring the meal. Apertifs are consumed before the meal and are intended to stimulate the appetite.
Rum is a distilled beverage made from fermented sugar. This process usually includes the fermenation of juices of the sugarcane as well as molasses and other by-products of sugar production. The majority of the world%99s rum production occurs in the Caribbean.
There are several classifications of rum. Each classification depends on the amount of time the product is aged and/or the distillation process.
"White or light" rums are generally light-bodied. They are usually clear and have a very subtle flavor profile. White rums are primarily used as mixers and blend particularly well with fruit flavors.
"Gold or amber" rums are generally medium-bodied. They have a deeper, mellower taste than light rum. Gold or amber rums receive their color from aging in the wood casks and sometimes from the addition of caramel.
"Anejo" rums are aged longer and have an even deeper and mellower taste than gold rum.
"Dark" rums are full-bodied, rich, caramel dominated rums. The best are produced mostly from pot stills and frequently aged in oak casks for extended periods. The richest of these rums are consumed straight up.
"Spiced" rums can be white, golden or dark. They are infused with spices or fruit flavors. Rum punches, such as planters punch, are blends of rum and fruit juices that are popular in the Caribbean.
To be called a Scotch whiskey it must be produced and aged in Scotland. Scotch must be aged a minimum of three years in oak casks.
The fastest growing segment of the Scotch industry today is the single malt. The single malt Scotch whiskey is the product of one specific distillery and has not been mixed with whisky form any other distilleries.
Blended Scotch whiskey accounts for 94% of all Scotch consumed worldwide. Blended Scotch whiskey is the combination of a number of different single malt and grain whiskies (as many as 40 to 50!). If the Scotch includes a statement of age, it must reflect the age of the youngest whiskey in the blend.
Tennesse whiskey is a whiskey that undergoes a filtering stage called the Lincoln County Process, in which the whiskey is filtered through a thick layer of maple charcoal before it is put into casks for aging. This step gives the whiskey a distinctive flavor. The process itself is named for Lincoln County, Tennessee, which is where the Jack Daniel%99s distillery was originally located. In 1871, the Jack Daniel%99s distillery and the surrounding area became part of the newly created Moore County. Presently, there are only two brands of Tennessee whiskey on the market: Jack Daniels and George Dickel.
Tequila is made from the agave plant which looks like a cactus. Tequila must be made using a minimum of 51% blue agave plant. The agave plant grows 8-12 years before it is harvested. Tequila is made in and around the town of Tequila which is in the western Mexican State of Jalisco.
There are several different categories of tequila:
White: Clear and transparent, fresh from the still tequila is called Blanco.
Gold or Oro: It is Blanco with caramel added or aged six months or more in casks.
Reposado: It is Blanco aged in white oak casks two months to a year. The oak casks give Reposado a mellow taste and gives it the pale color.
Anejo: It is Blanco aged in white oak casks for more than a year. Anejo has an amber color and a woody flavor picked up from oxidation through the porous wood casks.
The margarita is the most popular tequila drink and is made by adding triple sec ( or premium orange liqueur), and lime juice (or margarita mix). Super premium tequilas can be enjoyed in margaritas or alone in a snifter.
Vodka is by far the most popular distilled spirit in the world. In recent years there has been an explosion of flavors and super premium vodkas. In the United States vodka is considered a spirit without any distinctive character, aroma, taste or color. Vodka is produced from grain, potatoes, molasses, beets and a variety of other plants. Rye and wheat are the classic grains for vodka, with most of the best Russian vodkas being made from wheat while in Poland they are mostly make from a rye mash. Polish distillers are partial to potatoes. American distillers use the full range of base ingredients.
The water used in the production of vodka is very important. Natural spring water is preferred to distilled or treated water since water constitutes 50% or more of vodka.