The art of distillation spread throughout Ireland between 1100AD and 1300AD mostly in monasteries. The countryside was not great for growing grapes and therefore barley beer was used as the base for distillation. The first written record of whisky was in 1405 in the Annals of Clonmacnoise where the death of an Irish chieftain is described. The first written evidence of whisky production in Scotland is in 1494; James IV of Scotland had a famed liking for whisky.

Henry VIII indirectly helped to spread the popularity of whisky when he closed the monasteries. The monks moved into farms and homes to produce whisky to earn a living. An increase in understanding and technology in the following years gave a better product. The whisky was also smoother thanks to extended aging in oak casks.

The increase in production brought whisky to the attention of the English and Scottish governments. In 1725 the Malt Tax was passed and most of the distillers in Scotland either shut down or went underground. The illegal distillers used all sorts of tricks to maintain stills and smuggle whisky past the excisemen. Stills were hidden in the hills and the whisky was hidden in coffins for transport. By the early 1800s it is thought that over 50% of the whisky consumed in Scotland was produced using illegal stills. In 1823 the Duke of Gordon, whose land was used by many illicit distillers, proposed an excise tax that allowed the distilling of whisky in exchange for a license fee. The smuggling died out very quickly, and a lot of modern distilleries stand on the sites of the old stills.

In 1826 Robert Stein invented the continuous still and this was refined in 1831 by Aeneas Coffey to create the Coffey still. The Coffey still made whisky distillation cheaper and more efficient and thus Grain Whisky was born. This lighter style increased the popularity of whisky and in the late 1800s, when phylloxera was devastating the vineyards of Cognac and Armagnac, whisky became the drink of choice.

On the other side of the Atlantic, whisky survived the Prohibition era of 1920-1933. Various different moonshines were made illegally, and the smuggling of Canadian whisky was big business.

Whisky or Whiskey????

  The word Whisky/Whiskey is derived from usquebaugh, the old Gaelic word for “Aqua Vitae”, this was pronounced “usky” and eventually was written as “Whisky” in English. No “e” is the proper spelling in Canada, Japan, Wales, and of course Scotland. The “e” is added in Ireland and the United States. It would appear that the change in spelling is a matter of regional language variance, much the same as colour and color. The term “Scotch” is used to describe Scotch Whisky, unless you are in Scotland where it is referred to as just Whisky.

Whisky Production

Whisky is made by distilling a fermented barley base known as  “wash”, it is basically a barley beer. Different whiskies have subtle adjustments to their individual production which gives each style its specific character.  

The basics of production are as follows:

The barley grain itself contains no fermentable sugar and instead stores energy in the form of starch. Yeast will convert sugar into alcohol, but cannot break down the larger starch into molecules. The barley grains are germinated so that they will convert their starch into simple sugar.   Before the grains finish germinating they are heated in a kiln to kill the barley and stop germination.This process is known as malting.     The malted grains are then ground up in a mill to produce a rough gritty powder known as grist. The grist is soaked in warm water and the sugar dissolves to form a sweet liquid known as wort. The wort is fermented in a mash tun to make the base for distillation known as wash. The wash is basically a simple barley beer.   Distillation is done in tall copper pot stills with long bent “swan necks”. The wash is heated and the vapors are cooled and collected. The collected spirit is run into oak casks to be aged. The oak casks impart color and flavor to the spirit and also mellow the taste.  

Types of Whisky/Whiskey

Scotch Whisky is made in Scotland and gets its unique flavor from the use of peat during the malting process. Peat is decomposing organic matter such as heather, grass and so forth. It is cut out of the marshes or bogs in Scotland and is used as fuel in the kilns. The smoke from the burning peat flavors the grains with a smoky, earthy, rich flavor which is then transferred to the whisky.   The regions of Scotch Whisky are Highland, Speyside, Lowland, Islands, Islay, and Campbeltown.
  • Malt Whisky is made from malted barley.
  • Grain Whisky is made from a mix of grains.
  • Single Malt Whisky is from a single distillery and is named after the particular distillery.
  • Blended Malt or Vatted Malt Whisky is a mix of single malts from different distilleries.
  • Blended Whisky is generally a mix of malt and grain whiskies generally from many different distilleries.
  Irish Whiskey is produced in Ireland and must be aged in casks for no less than 3 years. They are distilled 3 times, Scotch whisky is distilled twice, for a smoother easier to drink flavor.    

American Whiskey

  • Bourbon is made from a mash that consists of at least 51% corn and must be aged in charred American oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years.
  • Rye Whiskey is made from mash that consists of at least 51% rye.
  • Tennessee Whiskey is produced in the same way as Bourbon, however they are filtered through sugar maple charcoal (Known as the Lincoln County Process) to help produce a cleaner spirit. This filtering is not allowed for Bourbon and therefore spirits produced this way are labeled Tennessee Whiskey.
  • Canadian Whisky is usually smoother and lighter in flavor than Bourbon. By Canadian law these whiskies must be produced and aged in Canada. They are a blend of cereal grains and are aged for a minimum of 3 years in wood barrels.

Whisk(e)y Producers

To help narrow your search please enter a Producer into the search box.
ProducerPictureAbout the Producer
AmrutAmrut is one of the pioneers of the Liquor industry in India, and has grown out of its locale in Karnataka to an acknowledged Indian and international presence.
Amrut was founded in 1948 by the late Shri J.N. Radhakrishna, J.N.R , not long after the beginning of Indian independence from British rule.
The present Chairman and Managing Director is his son Shri Neelakanta Rao, who has expanded upon the the solid foundations laid down by his father.
His penchant for innovation and technology-upgrade has been the ideal foil for seeing Amrut emerge as a world renowned producer of Whisky and other spirits.
The distillery is named after a legend.According to Indian Mythology, when Gods and Rakshasas - the demons - churned the oceans using the mountain Meru as churner, a golden pot sprang out containing the Elixir of Life.That was called the "Amrut".

Amrut Single Malt Whisky is a product of many years research to produce whiskies matching world standards. This whisky is made from selected Indian barley grown at the feet of the Himalayas, nurtured by the waters flowing there and cultivated by old and traditional agricultural practices. It is carefully mashed and distilled in small batches to preserve the natural aroma and matured in oak barrels in a unique tropical condition, at an altitude of 3,000 feet above sea level at Bangalore, the garden city of India.

To retain the natural characteristics of this oak aged Indian Malt Whisky, we do not chill filter, some haze may therefore be noticed in the product. Amrut presents this product as a humble tribute to the Indian farmer, who has grown this barley with care and affection with which he has tilled the soil.
BlackadderBlackadder was founded in 1995 by Robin Tucek and all Blackadder whiskies are Robin Tucek's personal selection.
Blackadder believes in bottling only whiskies that are completely natural
Robins challenge, is to select and bottle only individual casks as naturally as possible. To ensure this they only give their whiskies a light filtration to remove any cask particles that may otherwise get into the bottle. Blackadder Raw Cask whiskies, however, are completely unfiltered.

Most malt whiskies bottled by major distillery owners are a marriage of several different casks. These big cask vattings are then often chill-filtered and colored with the addition of varying amounts of caramel before being bottled. Chill-filtration - when the spirit is chilled to freezing point or below prior to bottling - is done to remove any cloudiness in the Whisky. Unfortunately, it also removes many of the natural fats and oils, which detracts from the natural character of the drink.
The more a whisky is chilled when filtering the greater the proportion of fats and esters removed. The natural flavor congeners gather around these fats, and the overall quality tends to suffer.

All Blackadder whiskies are single cask bottlings. Each cask is chosen to represent one of the very best examples of its type and age. No two casks of whisky are ever exactly alike, because the type of oak used and the conditions under which it is stored will both influence the ultimate spirit produced. Blackadder whiskies therefore offer the widest possible variety of singular taste experiences.

Blackadder believes in bottling only whiskies that are completely natural - thus keeping alive the centuries old traditions by which they are first lovingly distilled and then carefully aged over the years they spend silently maturing in cask.

Compass Box

Compass Box Whisky was established by John Glaser, an American winemaker with a passion for Scotch whisky. Glaser grew up in Minnesota, and while attending college he developed a passion for fine wine and decided to pursue a career in winemaking. He had winery jobs in both Burgundy and Napa before ending up on the business side of the wine industry. He ended up changing careers and started working as the marketing director for Johnnie Walker.

In 2000 he created the Compass Box Whisky Company in an effort to make a different style of Scotch whisky. Less than 20 years ago, most of the Scotch whisky on the market was blends; mostly mass-produced stuff from a small group of large Scottish distilleries. The Scotch world was also dominated by the stuffiness of being the connoisseur’s spirit. Rules for drinking, rules for enjoying, and a flavor which takes years to appreciate. John Glaser and Compass Box aim to change that.

Compass Box blends boutique Scotch whiskies using single malt and single grain whiskies from distillers in different regions of Scotland. Compass Box is fanatical about the oak barrels in which they age their spirits. They utilize American oak casks (like bourbon distillers do) and also some high-quality French oak for others. Each oak barrel has a different effect on the taste of the end product.

The highly conservative Scotch industry has sometimes become annoyed at this flaunting of tradition. The first release of its Spice Tree whisky in 2005 used a technique from the French where new oak staves are inserted into used whisky barrels to give them a burst of new flavor. The Scotch Whisky Association threatened to sue Compass Box because this technique had never been done with Scotch before.

John is of the opinion that Scotch does not deserve all of this baggage and feels that Scotch can be drunk on the rocks, neat, or mixed into cocktails.

For more information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:
GlenglassaughGlenglassaugh Distillery is an iconic single malt Scotch whisky distillery located just beyond the boundary of the Speyside region in the north-east of Scotland, close to the small town of Portsoy and picturesquely sited high above the dramatic Sandend Bay. Local barley and good supplies of pure water ensure that whisky of the highest quality is made here.

Glenglassaugh was founded in 1875 by a local entrepreneur and his two nephews. In 1892 the distillery was sold to the Highland Distilleries Company who owned and operated it for many years.
In 1960 the distillery was rebuilt and enlarged with the aim of producing a refined and delicate spirit which subsequently proved capable of long aging. In 1986, following an economic downturn in the industry, Glenglassaugh was mothballed and remained silent awaiting its fate.

In 2008 the distillery's fortunes were revived as it was purchased by a new independent group of investors and following a refurbishment it was reopened later that year.
The aim of the refurbishment was to use as much of the old equipment as possible and by using the same production methods, thanks to finding the old production records, to produce a new spirit of the highest quality as close to the spirit which had been produced before the shut down as possible.
High West DistilleryHigh West Distillery & Saloon is Utah’s first legal distillery since 1870 and the world’s only Ski-in Gastro-distillery located at exactly 7000’ in the heart of Old Town Park City. High West’s passion is crafting delicious whiskies and marrying these with contemporary Western comfort food.

High West Whiskeys have received multiple awards and accolades and High West Distillery was named 2011 “Whiskey Pioneer of the Year” by Whiskey Advocate, America’s leading whiskey magazine.

High West was started by David Perkins, a former biochemist with a passion for cooking and the American West. David decided to leave his job in the biotech industry and start a distillery to to create a true western rye whiskey, America’s oldest spirit and the thirst-quencher of choice in Old West saloons.

Jane, David’s wife, had a great grandfather who started one of the country’s leading distilleries turn of the century 1900. In 2007, after navigating Utah’s complex licensing process, High West Distillery opened for business.

Rendezvous Rye

The Rendezvous Rye is created by marrying two beautiful “straight” rye whiskies—one old, and one young.
Straight whiskey is the fullest flavored whiskey made in North America. It’s the U.S.
version of a single malt scotch except aged in brand NEW American oak barrels.
Distilled at less than 160 proof, you get all the flavor the distiller meant you to get.

Double Rye

The Double Rye is a blend of two Straight Rye Whiskies: a 2 year old and a 16 year old.
The 2 year old has a mash bill with 95% rye and 5% barley malt and is fermented with
High West’s proprietary yeast. Specific barrels of this whiskey are selected for their
herbal, spicy, evergreen, juniper, eucalyptus notes.
The 16 year old has a mash bill with 53% rye, 37% corn, 10% barley malt. This whiskey
provides the spearmint, caramel, and vanilla sweetness to calm the younger whiskey.

For more information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:
A D RattrayFounded in 1868 by Andrew Dewar and William Rattray, A D Rattray began trading as an importer of French wines, Italian spirits and olive oil. More importantly, however, the company also established itself as a specialist in the field of blending and storage of malt and grain whiskies.

In the latter part of the 1800s A D Rattray Ltd came to represent a number of well-known Highland Malt distilleries - most notably Stronachie - selling bulk whisky to West of Scotland wine and spirit merchants, publicans and the main Scotch whisky blending houses in and around Glasgow.

Like many other merchants, A D Rattray Ltd suffered during the crisis of the early 1900s and in the late 1920s the partners sold the business to William Walker. Well-established as a whisky broker, Walker set about expanding the business with the acquisition of a number of smaller merchants. Despite rationing during the 2nd World War, the company continued to supply the West of Scotland licensed trade until Walker's death.

A D Rattray Ltd has returned to the family and is owned by Mr Tim Morrison, previously of Morrison Bowmore Distillers and fourth generation descendent of Andrew Dewar. A D Rattray Ltd's resurgence stems back to early 2004 when, using his extensive knowledge and expertise in the whisky industry, Mr Morrison bottled a selection of his own handpicked stock of whiskies for market release.

Today the company's principal purpose is to bottle unusual and exclusive casks of Scotch Whisky, with each one chosen to reflect the different styles of the six individual whisky regions of Scotland. Whether from Mr Morrison's own stock or independently sourced, only casks which are found to be of exceptional quality are bottled under the A D Rattray Cask Collection label and released into selected markets.

The A D Rattray Ltd whiskies which form the Cask Collection portfolio are sourced from distilleries throughout Scotland. This extensive range of whiskies is bottled at natural strength and color without any unnecessary chill-filtration.

All of the flavor from the cask.....in a bottle.

For more information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:
Kentucky Bourbon DistillersThe Willett family distillers has a long history in the craft of distillation. Originally the Willett family brought their knowledge with them from England to the American Colonies in the early 1600’s. Before coming to the colonies they distilled brandy in France.

The family settled in Bardstown, Nelson County in Kentucky and were involved with developing several of the most famous distilleries of the area.

During Prohibition, the Willett family raised hogs and cattle at the farm in Bardstown.
In 1935, the Willett distillery was erected on the farm, by Lambert Willett, father of Thompson Willett, founder of the Willett Distilling Company.

In the beginning of 1936, the Willett Distilling Company produced its first batch of 300 bushels (~30 barrels) on March 17th, 1936.
The newly barreled whiskey was stored in one of the eight warehouses. The warehouses were built on some of the highest ground in the county, assuring that a fresh breeze would aid in the maturation of the whiskey. Five years after the foundation of the Willett Distilling Company Lambert retired from the Max Selliger & Co. to manage his farm and oversee the distilling process.

The Willett Distilling Company continued to operate until the early 1980’s. The Willett’s had made their mark on the Bourbon industry and it was now time for them to retire. On July 1, 1984, Even G. Kulsveen (pronounced Evan), a native of Hamar, Norway, and son-in-law to Thompson Willett, purchased the property from the Willett’s and formed Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd. Even Kulsveen continues to operate at the facility to this day

Noah’s Mill

Aged in wooden barrels, bottled by hand at 57.15% alc./vol. (114.3 proof)
Noah’s Mill Genuine Bourbon Whiskey is handmade in the hills of Kentucky.
This is a Bourbon of extraordinary character and smoothness not found among younger whiskies. Its superior taste and flavor characteristics are made possible only from using the very finest quality ingredients at the outset along with the long years and patience necessary for nature to mellow everything to perfection. We bottle this Bourbon at a strength that best compliments its age, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy it like no other Bourbon.

Rowan’s Creek

Rowan’s Creek is stored in charred oak barrels. It is hand bottled at 50.05% alc./vol. (100.1 proof).
Rowan’s Creek is made and bottled by hand, in small lots, one batch at a time.
This Bourbon takes its namesake from the creek that still runs through our distillery. Back in the late 1700’s when John Rowan first settled around Bardstown , whiskey makin’ was the order of the day. John went on and made a name for himself as a well respected judge and statesmen. The judge is long since gone, but the creek that still bears his name is still carrying the best limestone spring water there ever was for making good Bourbon, so you know the whiskey makin’ is still going on. Try a sip of it, straight up in a snifter, or add a dab of branch water if you like. Either way, it’s the very best there is.

For more information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see: