Scotch whisky is best… right?
Look, I’m biased. I work at an outstanding 5* Visit Scotland, family owned distillery. The distillery also happens to lay claim to the oldest written reference to Scotch Whisky. You’d afford me a little partiality towards Scotch Whisky now wouldn’t you?
Is Whisky from other countries rubbish then?
Because it’s not Scotch whisky, can it still be good whisky?
Enter…‘World Whisky’ a catch all term for anything which isn’t ‘Scotch’, ‘Irish’, ‘Bourbon/American Whiskey’ or even perhaps these days Japanese.
The Japanese Whisky that the world goes mad for isn’t a modern construct, nay Masataka Taketsuru studied at the University of Glasgow in 1918 then spent a good few years with Scottish Whisky distilleries before eventually sailing back to Japan to establish Yoichi with Suntory then a few years later to establish the mighty Nikka whisky company. They have been honing their art for a good few years and have gotten really very good at it.
So what of ‘world whisky’ you cry. Well let’s look at England, which up until the turn of the 20th century made single malt. England has now been making Whisky again since the opening of the St. Georges distillery in 2006 (around the time of Kilchoman on Islay). There are some excellent young Whisky’s coming from the likes of Bimber, Cotswolds, The Lakes and Adnams.
Further afield and we have Kavlan in Taiwan, sweeping up awards left right and centre. Mackmyra of Sweden, Paul John and Amrut of India all hold their own against single malt whisky’s with 100’s years’ experience. Cast your gaze even further and Australia has a very exciting growing Whisky making scene with the likes of Lark and the new Archie Rose.
In the spirit of fairness, Scotch whisky is tightly regulated and only whisky made to the official standards which is both produced, matured and bottled in Scotland can be called Single Malt Scottish Whisky. For all other nations, the rules on Whisky making are far less regulated and arguably a little more ‘malleable’. Japanese Whisky for example can include Scotch Whisky and still be called Scotch. Other countries may permit the use of enzymes to increase alcohol yield, or allow for the use of alternative maturation techniques or even use things like molasses or rice. That said, I’d suspect most ‘world whisky’ producers make their whisky using the exact same processes that we do here in Scotland. After all ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’.
So is Scotch better? Well, that’s up to you – let me know what you think!