“Firewater,” or whiskey, can be confusing to some---all those terms like bourbon, rye, single-malt, scotch, and blended are too much to sift through on a Friday afternoon around 6 p.m. You just want to relax with a glass and put the worries of the week behind you.
Whiskey is a broader term used to describe distilled grain alcohol that is aged in wood barrels. From there, whiskey connoisseurs divide their allegiance among their favorite flavors, regions, and even distillation methods, claiming that their way is best. How do the rest of us keep up with the seemingly sophisticated knowledge it takes to appreciate whiskey?
There are plenty of misconceptions around whiskey that need to be put to rest as we come into an appreciation for its savory simplicity. Pour yourself a tall glass on the rocks and prepare to be enlightened:
Older whiskey doesn’t always taste better. There is a huge misconception that the longer you age whiskey, the better it will taste. This is simply not true, as quite a few of the high-quality whiskeys on the market today are the result of intentional blending and mixing flavors, which takes incredible knowledge and skill. A two-year whiskey can taste every bit as good as one that has aged for 15 years or longer; the secret lies in the distillation method and the quality of ingredients used.
Not all whiskeys have natural coloring. Anything labeled bourbon or “straight” whiskey is not supposed to have natural coloring, as the amber hues come directly from the barrel that it is aged in. It is acceptable for Scotch and American whiskeys to have caramel coloring added, however.
Darker color does not mean it has been aged longer. As hue is not always natural in whiskeys, color is not an indicator of age. The type of wood whiskey is aged in does have an effect on hue, though. American oak barrels give a beautiful golden hue, and European oak gives a wonderful mahogany color to our favorite fiery liquid. Darker blends tend to have a higher proof than their lighter counterparts that may be mixed with water.
Not all bourbon comes from Kentucky. Bourbon is uniquely American thanks to a 1964 congressional act declaring it an American institution. The majority of bourbon is manufactured in Kentucky, claiming an impressive 95 percent of total production. Other states have begun to produce it as well---New York, California, and Texas have joined the ranks, helping to whet our whistles and stock our shelves with golden goodness.
An “aged” batch is not necessarily homogenous. According to federal law, any age statement on a bottle of whiskey has to at least cite the age of the youngest whiskey on the batch. Some blended whiskeys are a pairing of much older blends with younger blends for the depth of flavor; the youngest whiskey in the batch is the one that gets claimed on the bottle.
No whiskey has been in production since “17--”. New whiskey companies are jumping on the marketing bandwagon and naming their brands after historical figures, citing the person’s birth date on the label as part of a more attractive sales package. If it’s older, it must be better, right? No whiskey has been in production for that long, and as we have discovered, older does not necessarily mean better. It is best to purchase whiskey from a reputable brand for its integrity of distillation and superior flavor.
Speaking of superior flavor…….
Never fear, Palmetto Distillery is here! With award-winning whiskey offerings, lip-smacking flavors of moonshine, and good old-fashioned Southern traditions driving us to excellence, we are confident that once you savor our flavors, you’ll keep coming back time and time again for more. Become a whiskey connoisseur of our superior products; our blends are simply the best! Visit www.palmettodistillery.com to place an order today!