The Taste of Scotch Whiskey

“The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed.”

–  David Daiches

 

One of the most prime examples of luxury and sophistication is the drinking of scotch whiskey.  It’s a staple of kings, artists, and business tycoons, capturing the imagination of Hollywood where the iconic image of the Sean Connery type sipping on expensive scotch is seen to be the most refined sort of man.  But what is it that makes Scotch such a luxurious delight and an icon of manliness in the western world?

To understand and appreciate a good scotch, it’s important to have a framework for the drink in the context of people and history.  That’s what makes it the choice of wealthy men with refined tastes.  Scotch represents the will of man to bring forth something superb and carefully tailored from the simplest elements of nature; water and barley.

Of course, in order to truly be considered scotch, the brew must come from Scotland where the history is as important as the craft of brewing itself.  Scotch Whiskey was a staple in the highlands as early as 1500 where it was the domain of barbers and clergymen who were the medical professionals of the age.  Whiskey was considered the “elixir of life” and prescribed as medicine for a variety of ailments.

The process of making Scotch Whiskey is as simple as any fermenting process.  It begins with a malting of barley, which is dried in the smoke of peat wood and then mashed into grist.   This oatmeal-like mash is run through a contraption called a “mash tun” where the sugars disperse into the water creating “wort.”  The wort is pulled out and fermented before running through a distillation process twice and matured in oak barrels.  Traditionally, sherry barrels were used to age whiskey but these days most crafters prefer to use bourbon.

The aging process is what determines the quality (and price) of the Scotch.  The minimum for “scotch” is 3 years but the really high-end brands are aged for more than 20 years for the smoothest possible results.

Drinking scotch whiskey is a matter of sipping it chilled or straight and savoring the bite right between your teeth.  The taste packs quite a punch and takes some maturation of the palette to get used to but the real point is the specialization and time that goes into rendering herbs and water into one of the most world-renowned alcoholic beverages you’re likely to encounter.

Arch City Tavern stocks a whole range of delicious malt scotches so come on in and we’ll give you some tips on appreciating the finer things in life.


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