Whiskey is far from a one-size-fits-all kind of beverage. You can find scotch whiskey in several forms — broadly, the two varieties of whiskey are malt whiskey and grain whiskey. Even then, there are so many unique ways to craft whisky using either of these two base products.
As the names would imply, malt whiskey is brewed from malted barley, while grain whiskey is made from various types of grains. Depending on how these ingredients are combined and brewed, it’s possible to create concoctions like blended malt whiskey, single malt whiskey, blended whiskey, single cask, and cask strength.
What Sets Scotch Whiskey Apart?
Scotch whiskey is one of the many varieties of whiskey, and it’s easily one of the most well-known and popular. Scotch can be brewed from either malted barley or grains or even a combination of the two. Most importantly, Scotch hails from Scotland — hence the name.
Traditionally, Scotch was a malt whiskey beverage. During the 18th century, however, commercial distilleries started crafting Scotch from grains like rye and wheat. The prevalence of distilleries has grown over the years, and in 2020, there were 134 of them producing Scotch in its nation of origin.
The simplest way to distinguish Scotch from other types of whiskey is its country of origin. For your drink to be classified as Scotch, it must have come from Scotland. A distiller cannot label its product as “Scotch” unless it’s produced in Scotland.
Alternatively, if whiskey is produced in the United States (often Kentucky), it’s considered bourbon. Unlike Scotch, bourbon is typically made from corn.
Can Scotch Whiskey Be Brewed Outside of Scotland?
Scotch whiskey cannot be produced outside the borders of Scotland. The Scotch Whiskey Regulations 2009 are used to determine when a beverage qualifies as “Scotch,” and when it isn’t permitted to bear this label. One key stipulation of this act requires the whiskey’s country of origin to be Scotland.
What Kinds of Scotch Whiskey Are There?
There are numerous ways that distilleries can produce Scotch whiskey. According to the aforementioned Scotch Whiskey Regulations 2009, however, all Scotch must fall into one of these five categories:
- Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
- Single Grain Scotch Whiskey
- Blended Scotch Whiskey
- Blended Malt Scotch Whiskey
- Blended Brain Scotch Whiskey
Where in Scotland is Whiskey Produced?
Primarily, there are five whiskey-producing regions throughout Scotland. Keep in mind that these regions aren’t officially designated, however — they’re just where whiskey is most commonly produced. Technically, it’s possible to brew Scotch anywhere within the nation of Scotland.
The five (unofficial) whiskey regions of Scotland are:
- Highlands & Islands
In some cases, the Islands are considered to be a region of their own.
When you’re deciding on a Scotch to try for yourself, the choices can be overwhelming. If you’re a new Scotch drinker, a great place to start is with a classic: Johnnie Walker Black Label and Red Label. You can pick some up for yourself from Payless Liquors. To get started, just stop by our store or place a pickup order today.
Johnnie Walker is one of the world’s most famous names in scotch whisky, and for good reason. From his humble beginning as a grocer in the early 19th century, Johnnie Walker created a business that his son Alexander and grandsons Alexander II and George would later solidify into a thriving global brand. Consistently leading the industry as the world’s most popular whisky, Johnnie Walker blends can be found in virtually any bar and liquor store in countries where alcohol consumption is legal.
Both Red Label and Black Label are blended scotch whiskies, which means at least two different types of component whiskies are blended to create a complex taste. These blends consist of single malt and single grain whiskies produced in several distilleries throughout Scotland. Single malt whiskies contain 100% malted barley, while single grain whiskies use cereal grains, typically wheat, malted barley, and corn. Barrels of these types of whisky would have been distilled separately, then blended to create the final product.
Scotch regulations mandate that whisky must be matured for at least three years in a wooden container. Some Johnnie Walker blends feature age statements on their labels to show the number of years they spent maturing in oak, while others do not. These are referred to as no age statement or NAS whiskies. Storing older whiskies in less-mature barrels and then combining whiskies of various ages allow the blending team to add new depth and complexity to the product, and all Johnnie Walker blends have a signature long and smoky finish.
Johnnie Walker Red Label
Red Label is the “Pioneer Blend” that brought Johnnie Walker global fame and helped establish the brand among whisky lovers around the world. It is considered a NAS whisky, meaning that some components of the blend will have aged for the three-year minimum, but others may be older. It mixes up to 30 malts and grains, combining the light whisky flavors of Eastern Scotland with the peaty flavors found in the West. Red Label’s medium-body blend is honey-gold in color with a nose of fruit, malt, and wildflowers. Its vibrant, spicy palate features vanilla, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, toasted oak, and toffee sweetness with hints of peat and smoke. The finish is medium length and characterized by pepper, honey, and pectin. A 750 mL bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label has a 40% ABV and costs around $27.
Johnnie Walker Black Label
Black Label sets the standard for deluxe blended scotch whiskies with a smooth, beautifully balanced taste and distinctly warming smoke finish. This blend has an age statement of 12 years, meaning every barrel used to house the batches was matured for a minimum of 12 years. Polished amber in color, Black Label begins with a nose of smoke, red berries, tropical dark fruits, toffee, winter spice, and hints of sweet vanilla. Its palate is smooth and creamy, perfectly balancing smoke and peat with citrus flowers, fruit, oak, malt, and toffee, which adds sweetness and a bit of spice. The long finish has flavors of citrus peel, fruity sweetness, vanilla, and
cracked pepper. A 750 mL bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label has a 40% ABV and costs around $40.
Contact Payless Liquors Today
Both Johnnie Walker blends are multi-dimensional and versatile, but each has its own strengths. Red Label is often used in cocktails, while Black Label is generally enjoyed straight or on the rocks, and a little added water can be added to either one to really bring out the sweetness. If you have any questions about Johnnie Walker or would like a recommendation, contact Payless Liquors today to speak with our expert team.