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whiskey-splash

Scotch

Scotch whiskies are generally distilled twice, though some are distilled a third time. International laws require years and one day in oak casks, among other, more specific criteria. An age statement on the bottle, in the form of a number, must reflect the age of the youngest Scotch whisky used to produce that product. A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed age whisky. Scotch whisky without an age statement may, by law, be as young as three years old. Anything bearing the label “Scotch” to be distilled in Scotland and matured for a minimum of three years.


Canadian

Canadian whiskies are usually lighter and smoother than other whisky styles. Another common characteristic of many Canadian whiskies is their use of rye that has been malted, which provides a fuller flavour and smoothness. By Canadian law, Canadian whiskies must be produced in Canada, be distilled from a fermented mash of cereal grain, “be aged in small wood for not less than 3 years”, and “possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky”. The terms “Canadian Whisky”, “Canadian Rye Whisky” and “Rye Whisky” are legally indistinguishable in Canada and do not denote any particular proportion of rye or other grain used in production.


Whiskey

WhikeyWhisky (Scottish English) or whiskey (Irish English) is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn). Whisky is aged in wooden casks, made generally of white oak, except that in the United States corn whiskey need not be aged.

Whisky is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many competing denominations of origin and many classes and types. The unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation to less than 95% alcohol, and aging in wood.

American whiskey is distilled from a fermented mash of cereal grain. It must have the taste, aroma, and other characteristics commonly attributed to whiskey.

The types listed in the federal regulations[10] are:

  • Bourbon whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% corn (maize).
  • Rye whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% rye.
  • Wheat whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% wheat.
  • Malt whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% malted barley.
  • Rye malt whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% malted rye.
  • Corn whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 80% corn (maize).
  • Blended whiskey, is a mixture which contains straight whisky or a blend of straight whiskies or in combination, whiskey or neutral spirits.

Rum

Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak and other barrels.

Light rums are commonly used in cocktails, whereas Golden and Dark rums are also appropriate for drinking straight, or for cooking. Premium rums are also available that are made to be consumed straight or with ice.

Dividing rum into meaningful groupings is complicated by the fact that there is no single standard for what constitutes rum. Instead rum is defined by the varying rules and laws of the nations that produce the spirit. The differences in definitions include issues such as spirit proof, minimum aging, and even naming standards.

Examples of the differences in proof is Colombia, requiring their rum possess a minimum alcohol content of 50 ABV, while Chile and Venezuela require only a minimum of 40 ABV. Mexico requires rum be aged a minimum of 8 months; the Dominican Republic, Panama and Venezuela require two years. Naming standards also vary. Argentina defines rums as white, gold, light, and extra light. Barbados uses the terms white, overproof, and matured, while the United States defines rum, rum liqueur, and flavored rum.[26] In Australia Rum is divided into Dark or Red Rum (Under Proof known as UP, Over Proof known as OP, and triple distilled) and White Rum.

Grades of Rum

Examples of dark, spiced, and light rums.

The grades and variations used to describe rum depend on the location that a rum was produced. Despite these variations the following terms are frequently used to describe various types of rum:

  • Light Rums, also referred to as silver rums and white rums. In general, light rum has very little flavor aside from a general sweetness, and serves accordingly as a base for cocktails.
  • Gold Rums, also called amber rums, are medium-bodied rums that are generally aged. These gain their dark color from aging in wooden barrels They have more flavor, and are stronger tasting than Silver Rum, and can be considered a midway-point between Silver/Light Rum and the darker varieties.
  • Spiced Rum: These rums obtain their flavor through addition of spices and, sometimes, caramel. Most are darker in color, and based on gold rums.
  • Dark Rum, also known as black rum or red rum, classes as a grade darker than gold rum. It is generally aged longer, in heavily charred barrels. Dark rum has a much stronger flavor than either light or gold rum, and hints of spices can be detected, along with a strong molasses or caramel overtone.
  • Flavored Rum: Some manufacturers have begun to sell rums infused with flavors of fruit.
  • Overproof Rum is rum that is much higher than the standard 40% alcohol. Most of these rums bear greater than 60%, in fact, and preparations of 75% to 80% abv occur commonly.
  • Premium Rum: As with other sipping spirits, such as Cognac and Scotch, a market exists for premium and super-premium rums.

Gin

Gin is a spirit whose predominant flavor is derived from juniper berries (Juniperus communis). Although several different styles of gin have existed since its origins, gin is broadly differentiated into two basic legal categories. Distilled gin is crafted in the traditional manner, by re-distilling neutral spirit of agricultural origin with juniper berries and other botanicals.

There are several distinct styles of gin, with the most common style today being London dry gin, a type of distilled gin. In addition to the predominant juniper content, London dry gin is usually distilled in the presence of accenting citrus botanicals such as lemon and bitter orange peel, as well as a subtle combination of other spices, including any of anise, angelica root and seed, orris root, licorice root, cinnamon, cubeb, savory, lime peel, grapefruit peel, dragon eye, saffron, baobab, frankincense, coriander, nutmeg and cassia bark.


Vodka

Vodka (Russian: водка, Polish: wódka, Ukrainian: горілка, horilka Czech: vodka, Slovak: vodka) is a distilled beverage and one of the world’s most popular liquors. It is composed primarily of water and ethanol with traces of impurities and flavorings.

Vodka is made from fermented substances like grain and potatoes.

Vodka’s alcoholic content usually ranges between 35-70% by volume; the standard Polish, Russian and Lithuanian vodkas are 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).

According to The Penguin Book of Spirits and Liqueurs, “Its low level of fusel oils and congeners — impurities that flavour spirits but that can contribute to the after-effects of heavy consumption — led to its being considered among the ‘safer’ spirits, though not in terms of its powers of intoxication, which, depending on strength, may be considerable.”

Vodka may be distilled from any starch/sugar-rich plant matter; most vodka today is produced from grains such as sorghum, corn, rye or wheat. Among grain vodkas, rye and wheat vodkas are generally considered superior. Some vodkas are made from potatoes, molasses, soybeans, grapes, rice, sugar beets and sometimes even byproducts of oil refining or wood pulp processing.


Tequila

Tequila (Spanish pronunciation: [teˈkila]) is a blue agave–based spirit made primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 65 kilometres (40 mi) northwest of Guadalajara, and in the highlands (Los Altos) of the western Mexican state of Jalisco.

Tequila is most often made at a 38–40% alcohol content (76–80 proof), but can be produced between 35–55% alcohol content (70–110 proof).[3] Though most tequilas are 80 proof, many distillers will distill to 100 proof and then dilute it with water to reduce its harshness. Some of the more well respected brands distill the alcohol to 80 proof without using additional water as a diluent.

Types of Tequila

There are two basic categories of tequila: mixtos and 100% agave. Mixtos use no less than 51% agave, with other sugars making up the remainder. Mixtos use both glucose and fructose sugars.

With 100% agave tequila, blanco or plata is harsher with the bold flavors of the distilled agave up front, while reposado and añejo are smoother, subtler, and more complex. As with other spirits that are aged in casks, tequila takes on the flavors of the wood, while the harshness of the alcohol mellows. The major flavor distinction with 100% agave tequila is the base ingredient, which is more vegetal than grain spirits (and often more complex).

Tequila is usually bottled in one of five categories:[7]

Blanco (“white”) or plata (“silver”): white spirit, un-aged and bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged less than two months in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels;

Joven (“young”) or oro (“gold”): is blanco or silver tequila with caramel or food coloring added. If caramel flavoring is used (versus food coloring) to create the ‘Gold’ color in the Tequila, the Gold tequila is less harsh when drunk as a ‘shot’, as the small amount of caramel flavoring slightly tones down the harshness in the mouth and throat, when compared to the silver or blanco tequila. Examples are Jose Cuervo Gold or Sauza Gold

Reposado (“rested”): aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels of any size;

Añejo (“aged” or “vintage”): aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years in small oak barrels;

Extra Añejo (“extra aged” or “ultra aged”): aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels. This category was established in March 2006.


Brandy

Brandy & Cognac are similar in almost every aspect. The one major difference for a cognac to be classified as a cognac is that it has to be made in the


Cognac

Cognac (pronounced /ˈkɒnjæk/ KON-yak), named after the town of Cognac in France, is a famous variety of brandy. It is produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town from which it takes its name.

According to French Law, to bear the name Cognac, the production methods for the distilled brandy must meet defined legal requirements, ensuring strict conformity with a 300-year old production process. It must be made from certain grapes (see below); of these, Ugni Blanc, known locally as Saint-Emilion, is the most widely-used variety today. It must be distilled twice in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais.
According to French Law, to bear the name Cognac, the production methods for the distilled brandy must meet defined legal requirements, ensuring strict conformity with a 300-year old production process. It must be made from certain grapes (see below); of these, Ugni Blanc, known locally as Saint-Emilion, is the most widely-used variety today. It must be distilled twice in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais.
Brandy is a spirit produced by distilling wine, the wine having first been produced by fermenting grapes. Brandy generally contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume and is typically taken as an after-dinner drink. While some brandies are aged in wooden casks, most are coloured with caramel colouring to imitate the effect of such aging.


Red Wines

red-wineThere are a countless number of red grape varieties in the world, some able to make wine, others best suited for Welch’s grape juice. Right now, the world wine market focuses on about 40 to 50 different red wine grape varieties, the most widely recognized and used listed below.

What differentiates red wine from white is first, the skin color of the grape, and second, the amount of time the grape juice has with its skins. After picking, red grapes are put into tanks or barrels where they soak with their skins, absorbing pigments and other aspects of the grape skin, such as tannins. This is how red wine gets its red color. The exact color, which can range from light red to almost purple, depends on both the color of the particular grape skin and the amount of time spent on the skins. Remember, the inside of almost all grapes is a light, golden color – it’s the skins that have the pigment. For example, much of Champagne is made from Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier, both red grapes. Yet because the juice for Champagne is pressed quickly, with little time on the skins, the color of Champagne is often white.

The list below is roughly organized from lighter-bodied to fuller-bodied, lower tannins to higher tannins and light color to deeper color – but note that this is not an “always” list, just a general guideline. Remember, European and old-world countries tend to label their wine by region, while new world wine is most often labeled with grape variety.

 

Grapes Where they grow best
Gamay Beaujolais, France
Pinot Noir

Burgundy, France; California; Oregon; New Zealand; Chile; Champagne, France

Tempranillo Spain
Sangiovese Tuscany, Italy; California
Grenache/Garnacha Rhone, France; Spain; California; Australia
Merlot Bordeaux, France; California; Washington State; Chile
Zinfandel California
Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux, France; California; South America; Australia; South Africa
Nebbiolo Piedmont, Italy
Syrah/Shiraz Rhone, France; Australia; South Africa; California; Washington State

Other popular red grapes and where they grow best:

Grapes Where they grow best
Barbera Piedmont, Italy
Carmenere Chile
Malbec Argentina; France
Mourvedre France; Australia; California
Petit Sirah California
Pinotage South Africa

 


White Wines

white-wineWhite wine differs from red wine in, first and most obviously, color. Under that skin, the pulpy part of a white grape is the same color as that of a red grape. The skin dictates the end color for red wine, which differs from the white’s color determinates.

This is mainly due to the pressing of the grapes. When white grapes are picked, they are immediately pressed and the juice is removed from the skins with little contact.

Color in white wine does vary, often from the type of grape, occasionally from the use of wood. Listed below are a few of the most common white varieties in the world wine market and of wine.com. They are listed from lighter bodied, and lighter colored, to fuller bodied with deeper colors. The list is not set in stone – winemaker’s decisions and climate may affect the end result of a white wine’s body and color – we just give you the guidelines.

Grapes/Region Where primarily grown
Champagne Champagne, France
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris Alsace, France; Italy; Oregon; California
Sauvignon Blanc Loire, France; New Zealand; California; South Africa
Chenin Blanc Loire, France; South Africa
Riesling Germany; Alsace, France; Australia; New Zealand; Washington State; California
Chardonnay Burgundy, France; Australia; California; South America; South Africa; Oregon
Viognier Rhone, France; California

Other white grapes to notice, listed alphabetically:

Grapes Where they grow best
Albariño Spain
Gewurztraminer Alsace, France; Germany
Sémillon Bordeaux, France; Australia

Rosé

A Rose by Any Other Name

Technically, a rosé is an “unfinished red wine,” but the term seems so- secondary. Rosé is a different sort of wine, with all the refreshing qualities of a white wine mixed with some characteristics of a red. It can be made from many different grape varietals and in many different regions, the most popular and successful being Southern France, Spain, California & Italy.

Notable Facts

Rosé is a wine that goes through the red winemaking process, but is stopped before extracting too many red wine characteristics. Almost always made from red varietals, the grapes are pressed and the juice sits with the skins for fermentation – but just for a little while – enough time to get a bit of color and a bit of the skin characteristics. Then fermentation continues as a white wine, most often in stainless steel. Rosés are typically ready to drink early – not so much to age. Some popular regions of rosé are Tavel (an AOC for ONLY rosé wines in the Rhone area of France), other areas of Southern France, Spain, Italy and California. Almost all regions make rosé, and many from different grape varieties (Grenache – based in Spain, France, Australia and South Africa; Sangiovese or Nebbiolo in Italy). Just like red and white wines, rosés can be of different styles – sweet or dry, dark or light – the winemaker and grape variety (or varieties as rosés are often blended) are key. Pink wines have delicious character and are perfect for food. For dryer styles of rosé, try those from Southern France and Spain, for the sweeter styles, look for White Zinfandel and some other California rosé makers.

Summing it up

Successful Sites: Southern France, Spain, Italy, California
Common Descriptors: strawberry, raspberry


Champagne & Bubbly

Essence of Bubbles

Many countries around the world make sparkling wine, each of them unique. The best-known sparkling wine is, of course, Champagne. Though so much sparkling wine is referred to as Champagne, true Champagne must come from the namesake area and is one of a kind in taste, texture and reputation. The region is responsible for perfecting the bubble-making process, often referred to as methode champanoise or traditional method. The basic tenets of the traditional method are:

  • Only three grapes are used – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier
  • Secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle

10536108_sBeyond those rules, there are many details involved that make Champagne and its method of winemaking so distinctive, which is why it is emulated in so many winemaking areas. The categories of Champagne, and wine in the Champagne style, include vintage and include non-vintage, as well as include rosé.

In the US, California leads the way in sparkling wine made in the traditional method. Many wineries in California are owned and operated by Champagne house companies, and you may find the California bottles similar in style to their French counterparts. Other US producers include New Mexico and Oregon. Around the globe, sparkling wine hails from Australia, South Africa, Canada and South America, to name a few.

In Spain and Italy, Cava & Prosecco are the regional bubbles, both often made in traditional style. These are light and fruity sparklers that are often in the less-than-$15 category, which make them perfect for everyday enjoyment.

Reading the Label

Some Champagne & Sparkling wines have all 3 grapes, some have one or two.

  • Blanc de Blanc – means “white of white” and is made only of Chardonnay; lighter in style, perfect with shellfish and seafood.
  • Blanc de Noir – means “white of black” and is a white champagne made from either Pinot Noir or both Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier both red grapes); usually fuller-bodied than blanc de blanc, this style can match with a variety of foods.
  • Rosé – could be only one grape or all three, but must contain some percentage of a red grape. Can be robust in style and hold its own with a dinner.

Champagne & Sparkling Styles

Some Champagnes & Sparkling wines are bone dry, while others are off-dry and still others are sweet. The level of sweetness depends on the last step before the cork, dosage.

  • Extra Brut or Brut Naturale – Bone dry – the driest of the dry
  • Brut – Dry. This is the typical style of Champagne, with no sweetness
  • Sec – Still very dry but with a hint of sweetness.
  • Demi-sec- While the definition is half dry, think of it as half sweet. This wine will be fairly sweet.
  • Doux – also known as rich, this wine is the sweetest you can get in Champagne –over 5% sugar. It’s a dessert in itself and very rare.

Dessert Wines

Dessert wines are a delicious and decadent way to end a meal or pair with cheese. And there are so many to choose from – Port, Sherry, Sauternes, Tokay… so many styles at many different price ranges. Dessert wines are made in a variety of manners. Port and Sherry are both fortified wines, while Sauternes, Tokay and ice wines are all made with grapes affected by botrytis, a noble rot that intensifies the flavors of the grape. Dessert wines vary in level of sweetness, intensity, alcohol and color. Enough to satiate any level sweet tooth.


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