Today I am taking a break from my usual subject, the sweet nectar of the Greek gods, otherwise known as wine, to talk a little about my second passion, which I am equally as fond of; whisky, or is it whiskey? The fact of the matter is that whether it is whisky or whiskey is dependent on where the brew was made. Whisky hails from Scotland while whiskey originated in Ireland. Whiskey is also the normal spelling used for North American varieties.
Both Scottish whisky and Irish whiskey make use of the same grain, barley, but the similarity ends there. The two beverages do not taste at all alike. In fact the taste can vary dramatically by region within each of the countries.
The common North American whiskies are made with rye, wheat or corn, or a combination of two or all three. Again, regional differences may impact the composition and flavour of the whiskey.
My beverage of choice, whether it is whisky or whiskey, depends on my mood. I don’t have a single favourite, not because I can’t make up my mind but because my favourite of the day depends on my mood. What do I mean by this? If I find my mind overstimulated the last thing I want to do is try to relax by sipping on a very complex and robust whisky that attempts to challenge me. That just generates more unsettledness. Instead, in that situation I want something very mellow and smooth, such as Sexton or Bruichladdich’s ‘The Laddie’.
However, the reverse is also true. If I am relaxed and decide to sip on a whisky I will select one that is more complex and bold; one that is robust and will stimulate my mind, perhaps Bowmore or Lagavulin.
Being the family’s historian and an avid genealogist for the past 40 years, I have been asked on more than one occasion whether I place my allegiance behind my father’s Scottish heritage and whisky, or my mother’s Irish ancestry and whiskey. My answer is “definitely”. I must admit that I have a prejudice for the Scottish and Irish varieties over those from North America.
Going forward I will occasionally inject a whisky or whiskey musing just to keep life interesting, but my main focus will continue to be the grape.