Know your whisky terms

Whisky connoisseurs and the whisky curious make the pilgrimage to Scotland for the famous aqua vitae. To maximise the experience, Whisky Trails make exploring this Scottish delicacy an adventure. Package tours are available so all the whisky lover has to do is sit back, relax and enjoy. For those who prefer to go it alone, there is plenty of inspiration for a weekend break or a weeklong getaway revolving around Scotch!

Scotland’s West Coast Whisky Trail, or ‘The Whisky Coast’ blend incredible scenery and fine hotels, restaurants and visitor attractions with the best single malt whisky- the recipe for an unforgettable holiday.

Image by Yutacar

Before beginning a whisky odyssey, the aspiring expert should learn a few terms to get started. And remember, while whisky can be enjoyed in cocktails, over ice or any myriad of ways, if you want to drink like a local, ordering whisky with a mixer is a no-no, as it’s meant to be enjoyed purely on its own- locals don’t even add ice. Perhaps just a splash of water is all that is needed for that perfect taste.

A Whisky Glossary

The word whisky comes from the Gaelic uisge beatha, meaning ‘water of life’. Some wonder why Scotch whisky is spelled without the ‘e’ as Irish and American whiskey. In the 19th century, Irish producers wanted to differentiate their product from the Scottish, so they added the ‘e’.

Scotch. Whisky can only be called Scotch if it is distilled and matured in Scotland. That made in other countries may be whisky (or whiskey) but it’s not Scotch!

Malt Whisky

Barley malt, which is allowed to germinate and then dried and processed, is the raw material for malt whisky. It is fermented with yeast and distilled in a pot still. Considered by some to be superior to common grain whisky found in blends; however there are many quality grain whiskies produced in Scotland.

Single Malt

This means the whisky was produced in one distillery and is not blended with others-though a bottle of single malt may contain whisky from several batches within a distillery.

Vatted Malt

A blend of single malts, said to produce a more consistent product that can be ‘tuned’ to bring out a particular character.

Blended Scotch

Contains blended malt and grain whiskies, commonly 60% grain to 40% malt.

Cask Strength

Newly distilled malt whisky is usually 115-120 degrees proof when it comes from the still, but is generally watered down and bottled at 70 proof for the British market. So cask strength malt whiskies are much stronger- bottled at a range of generally 100-110 proof, (or 57-63% alcohol by volume). These are often enjoyed diluted with a splash of water.

For a bespoke self drive itinerary highlighting Scotland's most iconic distilleries, or a private day tour visiting the West Coast's most famous whisky distilleries, contact us today!


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