10 Whisk(e)y Facts

Scotch, Bourbon, Whiskey or Whisky. Straight or blended. I thought wine labels were complicated. Whisk(e)y took the scotch!

In celebration of the Easter Weekend I attended a whiskey tasting in Onrus. Here I met Overberg farmer’s wife and mother of 3 Fredeline le Roux. Fredeline studied winemaking at Elsenburg and has reimagined herself as a whiskey distiller. She’s applying knowledge learnt to make whiskey with her bestie who was also her roommate some 20 years ago. Residents of Room 4 at Elsenburg of 2001 are now collaborating on a new project and things are going sweet – think honey or caramel – 2 typical whiskey aromas.

Fredeline is presenting whiskey tastings all over Cape Town, the Boland and Overberg. Gather a group of 12 friends and reserve a tasting with Fredeline at a cost of R150pp. Prepare for an educational 3 hours of tasting and talking. Money well spent as I got to experience a variety of 6 very different whiskeys. A few fast facts on whiskey:

  1. Whiskey – spelled (with an e) in the US and Ireland
  2. Whisky – spelled without the e in Canada and Scotland
  3. Scotch = a whisky made and bottled in Scotland in its entirety. A Scotch has a smokey flavour due to the production process where the barley is heated over a peat fire.
  4. Bourbon is produced in the US and has at least 51% mash from corn.
  5. ‘Whiskey’ comes from the Irish uisce beatha, meaning water of life.
  6. Pot still whiskey is a style of Irish whiskey distilled in a pot still.
  7. A single malt is when the whiskey is produced at a single distillery from a single grain.
  8. Single pot still is always triple distilled.
  9. Scotch and Irish Whiskey must both be aged for a minimum of three years.
  10. Scotch Whisky Regulations states ‘that has been matured only in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres’ while the Irish Technical File states ‘subject to the maturation of the final distillate for at least three years in wooden casks, such as oak, not exceeding 700-litre capacity’. This gives the Irish greater options regarding wood maturation.

I am by no means a whiskey expert and invite comments to my Whiskey fast facts above. There’s definitely more whiskey on my horizon as I explore the world of flavours and aromas.