To Chill or Not to Chill…


     Chill filtering is a process of removing residue, such as fatty acids, esters and proteins, from whisky prior to bottling. Purely cosmetic, chill filtering clarifies the whisky, preventing it from becoming hazy or cloudy when ice or water is added and also preventing the formation of sedimentation in the bottle.
In order to do this, the whisky is cooled (to around 0°C for single malts and colder for blends) and passed through a series of filters. This allows producers to dilute the whiskey to a lower proof and have it remain clear both on the shelf and in the glass.

     The substances that are removed during the chill filtration process are also components that contribute to the flavour, aroma and texture of a whisky. Removing them may improve clarity, but many connoisseurs feel this alters the taste and other characteristics.
Some feel strongly about “preserving the integrity of the whisky” and the traditional craft, preferring a non-chill filtered whisky. The number of distilleries offering non-chill filtered products is growing to satisfy this demand, while some distilleries, such as Bruichladdich, do not filter any of their products.

So…To Chill or Not To Chill?
     This has been a hot topic in the whisky industry lately. Those against chill filtration are convinced that the bouquet of the whisky is altered during the filtration process, resulting in a less than superior product. Those in favour of it maintain that the taste and texture of the whisky remain intact and that filtration simply provides a clear, well-balanced dram.
As always, we feel that the best way to determine your preference is to taste and compare both types of whisky on your own.

Here are some a few non-chill filtered selections, at different price points, to get you started:
Ardbeg 10yr unfilltered
Tasting notes: sweet vanilla counter balanced by lemon and lime
Finish: long and glorious with sea salt caramel and beach bonfire smoke
Aberlour’s A’bunadh
Tasting notes: orange, black cherries, dried fruit and ginger
Finish: robust and intense with bitter sweet notes of spices
Macallan Unfiltered Cask Strength (MC)
Tasting Notes: orange and light, spicy wood resins (clove & ginger) with smoky oak
Finish: intriguing and complex; layers of citrus fruits and a hint of vanilla sweetness 

Single…it doesn’t have to be complicated


While some swear single malt scotch is the only whisky worth sipping, others are loyally devoted to blends—and the battle rages on.

There are some common misconceptions when it comes to the difference between the two, as the word single can be quite deceptive.

So what exactly does single mean?

*deep breath*
A single malt scotch whisky is produced from malted barley. But here’s where the confusion comes in: “single” does not mean that the product came from one single batch or barrel. Instead, it refers to the fact that the whisky is the product of one distillery and contains whisky from multiple barrels (normally aged in oak casks for a minimum of three years) produced at that location. The year on the label refers to the youngest whisky in the bottle—ie. a 12yr scotch may contain whisky from barrels aged for longer but it must be labeled based on the barrel aged for the least amount of time. 

Single grain scotch whisky is similar to single malt whisky in that the whisky is produced at the same distillery. Where they differ is single grain whisky contains barley and one or more other cereal grains such as rye or wheat. Again, in this case, single only refers the fact that the whisky is from one distillery and not that it comes from a single type of grain or a single barrel.

Single-barrel or single cask scotch is just as it sounds—from one single barrel of whisky. These are much more rare and exclusive than other single malts. Characteristics of the whisky (flavour, colour, bouquet) produced in each barrel vary from one to the next, so every single-barrel release is different.

 Now that we have that sorted out, let’s move on…

What about blends?
Now that we’ve clarified “single”, hopefully the word “blended” makes a bit more sense in relation…

Blended malt scotch whisky contains single malt whisky from multiple distillery locations. Some blends include up to 40 different whiskies in a single bottle.

Blended grain scotch whisky contains single grain scotch whisky from several distilleries.

Blended scotch whisky is from two or more distilleries and contains several kinds of grains—a mix of both malt whisky and grain whisky. Most of the blended scotch purchased at liquor stores today falls into this category.

With so many variables, we recommend trying a variety of both single malt and blended scotches to determine whether you have an inclination for one over the other or simply enjoy both.

The Water of Life



Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”
                                                                                               – Mark Twain

 Oft underappreciated and/or misunderstood by both fellow members of the stiletto-sporting club, as well as the “brewskies with the boys” crew, whiskey offers such a wide selection of brands, varieties, flavour complexities and ways to drink that even most basic of palates can be satisfied with the right type.

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s start off with five basics that even a beginner whiskey drinker should know.

1)    The whiskey vs. whisky debate is an ongoing bone of contention among connoisseurs of the beverage. Generally speaking, Irish and American brands label their products as ‘whiskey’, while Scotland, Canada and largely everywhere else in the world use the ‘whisky’ spelling.

2)    All whiskey is made from fermented grain mash. Scotch, rye and bourbon are all types of whiskeys. Each is distinguished based on the kind of grain used, the type of cask and length of aging and the region of origin.

 3)    Trying to decide between single-malt or blended? A single-malt scotch whisky is made from water and fermented barley distilled by one producer at a single site. A blended scotch can include a mix of malt and grain whiskey combined from two or more distilleries. We recommend beginners stick to single malt in order to truly determine their taste preference in whiskey, as flavor profiles and characteristics can be more defined in a single malt.

4)    Many purists consider neat (room temperature whiskey in a glass) the only way to drink good whiskey. Others claim that adding a splash of distilled water can bring out the more refined notes. On the rocks, or over ice, is another way to enjoy whiskey, although the melted ice can water down your beverage beyond the point of adding a small amount of water. Finally, when you’re not sipping the finest of whiskeys and are looking to mix things up a bit, turn to a classic Old Fashioned or look into creative new whiskey cocktails coming from top mixologists.

 5)    Finally, one should know that whiskey comes from the Gaelic phrase “uisge beatha” which literally translates to “water of life”. To this, we can agree!

Cheers! Slàinte!