Whisky is a form of spirit that is distilled from grains such as barley (both malted and unmalted) wheat, maize and rye. The spirit here is usually aged in oak (or other kind of wood) casks. Most associated with Celtic regions such as Scotland and Ireland (where it is usually spelled as whiskey) the Celtic names for the spirit are held to mean ‘water of life’.
The first real written account of whisky distilling relates to a group of Irish monks in the early 1400s although it is thought that people had been making whisky for many years before that date. Over the years the way that whisky has been made has seen some changes and nowadays most whiskies will either be malt (made from malted barley) or grain (made from malted and unmalted barley and sometimes other grains).
Blended malt whiskies will be made from a mix of different whiskies from different distilleries whilst a single malt will come from one distillery. You can also buy blended whiskies which are made from both malt and grain whiskies. The most popular types of whisky include:
- Irish whiskies
- Japanese whiskies
- North American whiskies (i.e. Canadian and American whiskies)
- Scottish whiskies