It’s easy to recall fond memories with the right whiskey, and inside every bottle is a different story steeped in culture, place, and tradition. Whiskey makers are making their own blends all over the world and opened up their distilleries to plane-hopping whiskey aficionados. So whether it’s your hundredth or your first sip, these are the best countries to visit for the curious palette.
Naturally, we had to put Ireland at the top of the list. From the Gaelic, uisge beatha, or water of life, Ireland is considered the home of whiskey. Ireland doesn’t have many distilleries, but what they lack in quantity they make up thricefold in timeless quality and history. The whiskeys here are distilled three times, unlike Scotch and American whiskeys.
The whiskeys here are robust and spicy, It is believed that monks brought distilling techniques back from the Mediterranean after learning how to make perfumes in 1000 AD. The trade has notoriously declined in recent years but seems to be on the up with a rise in popularity.
A hop over the ocean and you are in Scotland where whiskey has been referenced in Scottish records as early as the 15th century in royal records of expenditure! Truly fit for royals, and the country itself is the perfect backdrop for a tasting session.
Scotch is a whiskey exclusive to Scotland and has certain standards that must be followed in order to have the title. The malted barley must be distilled for at least three years in oak barrels. Need some inspiration, www.visitingscotland.com will help you be on your way to the highlands to find the best distilleries around and soak up some of Scotland’s finest.
Very much up-and-coming in the world of oak and malt, Japan has produced some stunning batches of whiskey that have gained popular acclaim. Naturally, there is a local twist and the distillers use local ingredients and adapted techniques to turn the craft into something unique. Since whiskey was only first made in the 19th century, the coming years will be wonderful to see how the techniques and batches evolve.
Also a new contender in the whiskey business, Finland first produced whiskey in 1981 at the Koskenkorva distillery and has already won awards for best single malt. Finnish whiskeys have lovely clean palates and partner perfectly with the wild Finnish winters. Finland is definitely one to watch out for as the industry grows and refines.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can have a go making your own whiskey to compare to the masters. Look at this how to make whiskey guide to see the different ways you can make a batch of home blend. Just check the laws in your country before you begin to make sure it’s legal.
American whiskeys are generally sweeter than other whiskeys, however, the wide variety of climates and crop growing conditions makes the USA a great whiskey road trip tour. Be sure to check out a bourbon whiskey which is filtered through sugar maple charcoal which gives it its distinctive smokey candied notes.
Along with bourbon, the USA also has wheat whiskeys which are aged in charred oak barrels for at least two years. These wheat whiskeys have a long and spicy finish and are the perfect accompaniment to Tennessee sunset.
Traditional whiskey producing countries are not the only ones to be taken seriously. South Africa, despite not having a historical whiskey trail traceable to Ireland, has recently won awards for their 100% South African grown corn blends.
Because the warm weather accelerated the interaction between the spirit and the cask wood, the whiskey is exceptionally smooth and can be bottled at a young age. The climate in South Africa is also perfect for rich, flavoursome crops and the resulting in exceptionally high-quality materials to start the whiskey making process that carries through to the glass.
This guide doesn’t even begin to cover the delights and variety in our world’s whiskeys. The best way to discover new and unusual bottles is to get out there and go exploring – there is certainly no lack of exciting places to see.