Welcome to the world of whisky! Whether you're a seasoned connoisseur or a curious newcomer, this page is a comprehensive guide to the terminology used in the fascinating and complex world of whisky.
From the various types of whisky to the production process, maturation, and flavor profile, understanding whisky terminology can greatly enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of this beloved spirit.
So, whether you're looking to impress your friends with your whisky knowledge or simply want to deepen your own understanding, dive into this page and explore the rich and diverse vocabulary of the world of whisky.
Angel's Share: The amount of whisky that evaporates during the aging process.
Backset: The liquid left over after a batch of mash has been distilled.
Barrel Proof: The alcohol content of whisky straight from the barrel, without being watered down.
Blend: A whisky made by blending two or more different whiskies.
Bourbon: A type of American whisky made from at least 51% corn.
Cask: A large wooden barrel used for aging whisky.
Chill Filtration: A process used to remove particles from whisky by chilling it and then filtering it.
Cooper: A person who makes and repairs barrels.
Cooperage: The art and craft of barrel-making.
Dram: A small serving of whisky, typically 1-2 ounces.
Finish: The final flavor of whisky after it has been aged in a cask.
Mash: A mixture of grains and water that is fermented to create alcohol.
Malt: A grain, usually barley, that has been allowed to germinate before being dried and used to make whisky.
Nose: The aroma of whisky.
Peat: A type of fuel made from decomposed vegetation that is burned to dry malted barley, giving whisky a smoky flavor.
Proof: The alcohol content of whisky, measured in a percentage.
Rye: A type of whisky made from at least 51% rye.
Single Malt: A whisky made from malted barley from a single distillery.
Speyside: A region in Scotland known for producing single malt whisky.
Still: A large, copper vessel used to distill whisky.
Tasting Notes: A description of the flavors and aromas present in a particular whisky.
Whiskey: A spirit made from fermented grains and aged in oak barrels.
Whisky: The Scottish spelling of whiskey.
Worm Tub: A type of condenser used in traditional Scottish distilling that cools the spirit vapors by passing them through a long, coiled copper tube submerged in water.
Age Statement: The age of a whisky that is stated on the label, indicating the minimum number of years the whisky has been aged.
Angelica: A botanical used in gin distillation, but sometimes added to whisky to enhance its flavor.
Batch: A quantity of whisky produced at one time, usually in a single distillation.
Bottling Strength: The alcohol content of a whisky at the time of bottling.
Burn: The area in which peat is burned to dry malted barley.
Charring: The process of burning the inside of a whisky barrel to create a layer of char, which contributes to the flavor and color of the whisky.
Cooper's Axe: A tool used by coopers to shape the staves of whisky barrels.
Grain Whisky: A whisky made from a mix of grains, usually including corn, wheat, and barley.
Head: The first part of the spirit that comes out of the still during distillation, which contains high levels of alcohol and impurities.
Heart: The middle part of the spirit that comes out of the still during distillation, which contains the purest alcohol.
Malting: The process of preparing barley for whisky production by soaking it in water and then allowing it to germinate.
Mash Bill: The recipe for the grain mixture used to make whisky.
Nosing Glass: A special type of glass used for tasting and evaluating whisky, with a wide bowl that allows the aroma to be captured and concentrated.
Pot Still: A type of still used for traditional whisky production, which consists of a large, bulbous copper vessel with a swan neck that channels the vapors to the condenser.
Reflux: The process of repeatedly condensing and re-vaporizing the alcohol during distillation, which helps to purify the spirit.
Single Barrel: A whisky that has been bottled from a single barrel, rather than blended with other whiskies.
Sour Mash: A process used in bourbon production, in which a portion of the previous mash is used to start the fermentation of the new mash.
Tails: The final part of the spirit that comes out of the still during distillation, which contains low levels of alcohol and impurities.
Wash: The liquid produced after the mash has been fermented, which is ready for distillation.
Wash Still: The still used to distill the wash, which is typically larger than the spirit still.
Wood Finish: The process of aging whisky in a second type of cask, such as a sherry cask or a port cask, to add additional flavors and aromas to the whisky.