You might have wondered that “What is the best whisky?” is a very childish question. It is not. We, at AllAboutDaru, help you answer that question by bringing to you one of the most elite type of whiskies, Scotch.

In absolutely simplicity, Scotch is a whisky that has been made in Scotland pertaining to a very strict process. Scotch whisky finds its first mention around 1495 in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland. Distilleries spread across Scotland lend different whiskies different flavours and different preferences. The alcohol content in a scotch whisky can vary from 40% to 94.8%.

Types of Scotch Whisky

Scotch whisky can be broadly categorized into five basic types depending on the raw material used and the blending process followed.

Single Malt Whisky: A whisky made from malted barley from a single distillery.
Single Grain Whisky: A whisky made from grains (barley, wheat, maize, rye) from a single distillery.
Blended Malt Whisky: A mix of single malt whiskies from different distilleries. Also known as vatted malt whisky.
Blended Grain Whisky: A mix of single grain whiskies from different distilleries. Extremely uncommon.
Blended Scotch Whisky: A mix of both malt and grain whiskies from multiple distilleries.

They can be further distinguished based on the region of Scotland they have been distilled in. The region defines the flavour due to the wood used in the area to make the casks that hold the whisky or even the climate of the area which defines the character of the whisky. The types also talk about the exclusivity of the scotch. A blend comes from various distilleries. A single malt/grain comes from a single distillery.

A single malt single cask is the most exclusive type of Scotch whisky, unique in every aspect.


Scotch preparation is one of the most meticulous processes as fine as the alchemical process of preparing the elixir of life. The preparation begins with:-

Malting: The barley is soaked in water for a couple of days, allowed to germinate and then dried. This dried barley is then taken to the mill where it is ground and mashed with hot water. This results in the formation of fermentable sugars which are essential for the later production of alcohol. The liquid obtained, called as wort, is combined with different yeasts and kept in a wash back. The wash back is a vessel that allows the yeast to ferment the liquid over 2-4 days. Up until now, the process has been quite similar to the production of a beer.

Distillation: This is where the good stuff happens. Distillation is required to raise the alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage of the fermented liquid, which originally is just 7-10%. There is a minor difference in the processes for malt and grain whiskies.

Malt whisky: All Scotch malt whiskies are distilled in copper pot stills. The liquid from the wash back is boiled; the alcohol vapours are collected from the neck of the pot and allowed to condense back to alcohol. Now, one distillation run does not cut it. The first distillation gives rise to an ABV of 10-20% with some impurities. That is further refined by a second distillation run. Most malts are double-distilled. There are a few which are triple distilled and extremely rare ones which are quadruple distilled. From each distillation run, the very first and the last vapours are separated to be re-distilled again. Only the midpoint vapours are taken ahead which have about 70% ABV and a greater chance of evolving into a superior whisky.

Grain whisky: Distillation of grain whisky is a continuous process quite unlike that of a malt whisky, which is a batch process. Column stills are used for the distillation and the production is comparatively faster. Single grain whiskies have a very small share in the entire playground of Scotch whiskies. Blended grain whiskies are even more uncommon. Maximum proportion of the grain whiskies are used for mixing with old malt whiskies resulting in a superior blend of Scotch whisky.

Maturation: While it is debated whether the distillation process along with the shape of the stills and the purifier is crucial to make the whisky what it is, nobody can deny that it is the maturation stage that lends the whisky its character. The choice of the cask, the wood used, the storage environment, the age and many other factors ultimately make one Scotch whisky more appealing than the other. Whisky obtained from the distillery is fit for drinking, no doubt. But, it will not have the smell or the taste that has so famously been associated with Scotch whiskies. Also, maturation over time can only take place in wooden casks unlike wines, which can age even after they are bottled. A whisky is legally called a Scotch whisky only if it has matured a minimum of 3 years (strictly 365x3 days, not a single day less). It is put into casks at roughly an ABV of 63-68%. Casks used for maturing the whisky are made only from oak wood. It is solid yet malleable and lends a distinct taste to the whisky held in it. Casks that hold whiskies have generally held one or more liquids earlier. Even if the label says ‘fresh oak cask’ on the bottle, it means that the cask has only held one liquid before holding this whisky. This liquid is generally bourbon or sherry. It is necessary to do this since the harshness of the fresh wood used to create the cask can adversely affect the flavour of the whisky in it.

Apart from the type of wood, even the size and shape of the cask influences the flavour. A smaller cask matures the whisky faster since the wood has to work with a relatively smaller quantity of alcohol. The storage of the cask is important as well as it controls the humidity and temperature of the whisky inside when it breathes during maturation. The location of the warehouse where it’s stored can affect the flavour, too. Its proximity to the shore lends a distinctive identity to the whisky.

Blending & Bottling: Most brands of Scotch whisky are defined by their blends and their bottles. The blend can constitute from different casks or distilleries to get that unique taste and flavour. It is easier said than done. Famous brands have their specific recipes to create the blends that are so loved by the populace. The master blender has to choose the right cask, the right proportion so that every blend throughout every batch tastes identical.

Whisky from the casks is diluted to bring the ABV down to around 43% as per the norm prior to bottling them. In this process, the whisky tends to get cloudy. Hence, many producers carry out chill-filtration by cooling it just about freezing point and running it through a filter to remove the fatty substances. Certain big brands also add caramel colouring to the whisky so that every bottle looks identical. Purists of Scotch whisky are often known to detest such approaches.

Bottles of single malt single cask whisky have details of the cask, the type of wood, the date of distillation, etc. printed on the label making it a souvenir of sorts. Some bottles may also have ‘cask strength’ written on them which states that they have been bottled without any dilution. The ABV content in such bottles can range from 46% to the actual cask strength of around 58%.

Nutrition Facts

A Scotch whisky is simply an alcoholic liquid of a heavenly taste and a heady aroma. Nutrition-wise, the breakdown for a pub shot (35ml) of Scotch whisky is as follows:-

Calorie        =   78%    |       Alcohol         =   11.1%

Popular Brands in India

Black Dog: A very famous and fast growing brand of Scotch owned by United Spirits Ltd, it has an ABV of 42.8% and comes in a variety of flavours. The Scotch whisky is offered in four variations namely:

Black Dog Black Reserve (8 yrs, blend of 32 different whiskies across Scotland)
Black Dog Gold Reserve (12 yrs, blend of 25 different whiskies across Scotland)
Black Dog Reserve (18 yrs, uses a glass bottle made by Saint Gobain)
Black Dog Quintessence (21 yrs, blend of 25 Speyside whiskies, limited edition)

Chivas Regal: A long-time market leader in Scotch whisky, it is manufactured by Chivas Brothers. Having an ABV of approx. 45%, it comes in 3 different blends aged 12, 18 and 25 years respectively. The 25 year old, called as Chivas Regal Original, is available only in limited quantities.

Dewar’s: A Scotch whisky from Bacardi, Dewar’s blends constitute from 5 different distilleries in Scotland. With an ABV of 45%, it comes in 3 different blends named as Dewar’s 12 for 12 yrs, Dewar’s 18 for 18 yrs and Dewar’s Signature for 27 yrs. Its flagship Dewar’s White Label, created in 1899, is the top-selling blend.

Teacher’s: Better known as Teacher’s Highland Cream, this brand of blended scotch is one of the prized and elegant creations from Beam Inc. It’s blended with single malt from Ardmore having in 45-55 ratio with the rest being a blend of 30 single malts. The ABV for this can range from 42% to 49%.

Johnnie Walker: Personified by its catchy logo, this Scotch, owned by Diageo, is the most widely distributed brand of Scotch whisky. It is present in nearly every country in the world. The ABV of its blends remains around 40% and comes in a variety of offerings such as Red Label, Black Label, Double Black Label, Green Label, Gold Label, Platinum Label and Blue Label. It also boasts a number of special and limited blends that are best explored on their website.

VAT 69: Manufactured by William Sanderson & Son Ltd. and distributed by Diageo, the name has a special story behind it. In 1882, William Sanderson prepared 100 different blends and asked experts to taste them. The blend from the cask/vat numbered 69 was adjudged to be the best and the brand name was established. The ABV of VAT 69 blends stays at 40%.

100 Pipers: From Pernord Ricard, this is the seventh-largest blended scotch in the world. Inspired by the celtic pipers of Scotland who led soldiers to battle, it comes from the ballad which talks about the 1745 uprising. It has a smooth smoky flavor which is best enjoyed with ice. The ABV is 40%.

Ballantine's: This is a range of blended scotch whiskys distilled and produced by George Ballantine and Son Limited and marketed under Pernod Richard. The blend comes from 50 single malts from Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside and Isley regions of Scotland and 4 single grains. It is the world's second most selling scotch after Jahnnie Walker in spite of negative 5 year growth as reported in 2013.



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