While it’s common knowledge that whisky is made from grains, not many people, apart from the connoisseurs, know about the effect of different grains on the taste of a whisky. Every grain has a signature flavor and quaintness that attracts whisky lovers. In today’s post, we explore the effect of different grains that make your favorite whisky so enjoyable.
So, without further ado, let’s wade our way into the world of whiskies.
Barley and Single Malts
Single malts are the best place to start our journey. Traditionally, single malts whiskies have been the forte of Scotland and Ireland, along with Japan and Australia. These whiskies are made entirely using barley. Single malt whiskies share the same roasted, toffee-flavored cereal quality. Although, the taste may differ from brand to brand and region to region due to environmental and processing factors, but the base flavor remains unchanged. A good example of single malt whiskey is The Glenlivet by Pernod Ricard.
Corn and Bourbon
Bourbon whiskies are primarily made using corn. The spirit is known for its sweet, robust flavor of vanilla and maple syrup. Aging the liquor leads to a pleasant, leathery finish. However, a typical American corn whiskey (unaged or aged in used barrels) lacks the usual pleasant flavors from the cask. These whiskies are rather rich and have a syrupy corn sugar taste. In general, a typical Bourbon whisky is made from at least 51% corn.
The Rye Renaissance
Rye is a relatively recent addition to the whisky grains’ family. Rye whiskies appeal to those who prefer less sweetness and are inclined towards a spicier tasting drink. A Rye whisky is also made using at least 51% rye with malted barley or other grains making rest of the mash bill. Consequently, the higher the rye content, the spicier the whisky.
Wheat and Whiskies
Whiskies made with wheat are distinguished by their wheat bread and honey-like flavor. Wheated Bourbons are also a thing. Some distillers are also making whiskies with very high percentages of the grain (sometimes up to 100%) such as the Bernheim Original Wheat, 1792 Sweet Wheat, or Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whiskey. Although you might be hard-pressed to find them in India.
Beyond Traditional Whisky Grains
Since whiskies can be made from almost every grain, some distillers are also experimenting with ingredients like millet, which has an anise note with a grassier spelt. Oats are another example. Whiskies made from oat are spicier like Rye whiskies while having sweeter and chalkier aroma and flavor. Others have also used brown rice to add a nuttier flavor with an oily texture to drinks. However, these experiments, for the most part, are limited to distillers in the United States.
While there is no conclusion to this discussion for an avid whisky lover, we have covered the most common and some uncommon whisky grains and their effects on your drink. As always, the best way to know a good whisky is to taste it yourself.
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