Our quick guide to whisky, plus three drinks for March
Learn all there is to know about this spirit from aficionado Kieran Rocks, plus our drinks expert Miriam Nice shares tipples inspired by St Patrick’s Day (17 March)
Quick guide to whisky
What's a blended whisky?
A blended whisky is a combination of different types of whisky. In Scotland, a blended whisky is a mixture of single malt and grain whiskies, while in Ireland, it’s a mixture of either pot still, malt and/or grain whiskies.
What does single malt mean?
Single malt is a malt whisky that’s the produce of a single distillery. This means the whisky is made from 100 per cent malted barley and aged for at least three years. In Scotland, the whisky is generally double-distilled, but in Ireland it can be triple-distilled.
To be called Scotch, the whiskey needs to produced in Scotland and aged for at least three years in oak barrels. Other rules apply for different Scotch types.
This must be made in America, aged in charred virgin oak casks and produced using a mash bill (a mixture of grains) that is at least 51 per cent corn.
This follows the same rules as bourbon, but the mash bill should be 51 per cent rye.
This whiskey, spelled an 'e', is considered Irish if it's produced in Ireland. Stylistically, it's often triple-distilled to make a lighter spirit. Pot still whiskey is unique to Ireland; it is triple-distilled from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley.
Produced in Japan, this is very similar to Scotch in style – in fact, many Japanese blended whiskies are made using grain whisky from Scottish distilleries that has spent a short time aging in Japan.
We still love: coffee liquor
The cornerstone of timeless cocktails, like the espresso martini and white russian, coffee liqueur will never go out of fashion. It maintains popularity by evolving as trends do – cold brew, fairtrade and amaro varieties are now available. To mix up a classic, try crème de cassis in place of sugar syrup in an espresso martini – it adds a subtle, fruity sharpness that pairs well with complex espresso. Or, serve your coffee liqueur with tonic water for a refreshing, bitter alternative to a G&T.
Bar dictionary: whisky or whiskey?
‘Whisky’ is from Scotland, but in Ireland, it’s ‘whiskey’. This is down to variations in the different forms of Gaelic and a wish to differentiate between the two. In the US, it’s usually ‘whiskey’ as it often follows the Irish style, and in Japan it’s ‘whisky’, as production inspiration came from Scotland.
Three drinks for March
Celebrate St Patrick’s Day in style
Serves 2 | Prep 5 mins | Easy
Pour 50ml dark rum into a jug with a handful of ice, 25ml cold espresso, 25ml vodka, 25ml crème de cacao and 100ml stout. Stir until the outside of the jug feels cold, then strain into two martini glasses.
Cucumber, apple & spinach juice
A refreshing and vibrant drink
Serves 1 | Prep 5 mins | Easy
Put a 5cm piece of cucumber, 1 thick celery stick and a large handful of spinach in a bowl with 150ml unsweetened apple juice and the juice of 1 lime. Blitz with a hand blender (or in a jug blender or food processor) until smooth. Pour into a glass and serve, or first dilute with coconut water to taste.
An indulgent post-dinner treat
Serves 1 | Prep 5 mins | Easy
Whisk 2 tbsp double cream until very slightly thickened, then set aside. Pour 150ml freshly brewed coffee into a mug or heatproof glass. Add 50ml Irish whiskey and ½-1 tsp brown sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Spoon the cream over the top and sprinkle over a grating of nutmeg.
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