Making That Frisky Whisky

I apologize in advance for this semi-boring post (boring to me, anyway) but the process of making whisky is something we need to touch on as amateur whisky drinkers, right? Right! I did a lot of research and this is what I understood, if I am wrong or you have anything to add, by all means, comment below!!
Here is a diagram to help you follow along!


As we learned from a previous posting, To E or not to E…that is the question!, whisk(e)y is “the general term covering bourbon, rye, Scotch and other liquors distilled from a mash of grain.” But what does “distilled” and “mash of grain” actually mean? How does the whole whisky-making process actually work? It’s a pretty complicated process with a lot of steps that all depend on what kind of whisky you’re making but I’ll try to give you a basic run-down.

If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this video on how to make whisky and then come back for the details.

All grains except barley are ground up, mixed with water, and then cooked. Barley is malted instead of cooked. The barley is soaked in water to germinate, or sprout, and then spread out and watered for about three weeks until it sprouts. This process converts the starch in barley into sugars. Once the barley sprouts, it is dried with hot air to stop the germination process.

Mashing is when the combination of cooked grain, malted barley and warm water is mixed with heat to create a mash. For Scotch malt whiskey, the cooked grain is omitted from the combination. Mash is a cloudy, sugar-rich liquid, which is then ready to be distilled.

Before the distilling can happen, however, yeast needs to be added to the mash. The yeast organisms convert the sugars in the mash to alcohol. After 3-4 days of fermenting in the fermentation tank, the result is a liquid containing 10% alcohol. This liquid is called wash (in Scotland) or distiller’s beer (in the United States).

Distilling is a way to separate mixtures by heating them to their boiling points. After fermenting, the wash is boiled to 172 degrees Fahrenheit because that’s alcohol’s boiling point. The alcohol turns into a vapor and is collected, condensed back into a liquid and collected. It is now called “low wine.” The low wine is distilled a second time to produce “high wine” which is about 70% alcohol.

The high wine is now ready to be aged in wooden barrels. Water is added to reduce the alcohol content. Usually to 50 or 60% for American whiskies and 65% for Scotch. Environment plays a part on how alcoholic the whiskies end up. “Scotch whiskeys are aged in cool, wet conditions so they absorb water & become less alcoholic. American whiskeys are aged in warmer, drier conditions so they lose water and become more alcoholic.”

Any questions? Ask in the comments!

To E or not to E… that is the question!

I’ve always been a stickler for spelling and grammar. I worked as a copy editor for my college newspaper for two years and English has always been one of my best subjects. To all those spelling and grammar freaks who correct people on their “me and my friend” and their “my friend and I”’s, and who cringe after accidentally adding too many O’s to a “to” in a text—this post is for you!

One of the first things I noticed when I started educating myself about whisky is the difference in spellings – whisky versus whiskey.

First of all, what is it? Whisk(e)y is (according to “the general term covering bourbon, rye, Scotch and other liquors distilled from a mash of grain.” Even though the spellings have the same definition, there is one major distinguishing factor setting them apart.

  • If it is made in Scotland, Wales, Canada or Japan it is spelled “whisky” (plural “whiskies”).
  • If it is made in Ireland or America it is spelled “whiskey” (plural “whiskeys”).

Despite the general rule of thumb for whisky spellings, in 1968, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ruled the official spelling in America to be “whisky.”  Some distilleries wanted to stick to their traditions though and kept spelling their name with the E. That’s why when you look at the labels of American-made whiskies some have the E and some go E-less. The decision of ATF doesn’t hold as strong as tradition apparently.

Mount Royal Light is a Canadian whisky. It is originally a Seagram Company Ltd. product. Seagram’s was a company from Montreal, Quebec, Canada which (we assume) is why Mount Royal Light was named as “whisky” instead of “whiskey”.

And now for a little grammar lesson! Can you score 100%? Edit these sentences and write your answers in the comments! (Hint: 3 errors in #1, 2 errors in #2, 2 errors in #3)

  1. Because their is 1/3-less alcohol in Mount Royal Light, bartenders will not loose there head as easily.
  2. Remember when you’re friend drank that “other whisky” instead of Mount Royal Light and had to lay down?
  3. I prefer to drink Mount Royal Light whisky rather then that beer I could of bought.

*Thank you to for information contributing to this post.

To E or Not to E?

“Water of Life” Playlist

In honor of the iTunes gift card sweepstakes we have going for the month of August, I thought it’d be fun to put together a “Water of Life” (Whisky) Playlist! Now as you’re sipping on your Mount Royal Light you’ll have something to listen to! A few songs from this list will be loaded on Facebook and Twitter for you to click-through throughout the month.

I linked all the songs to YouTube videos for your viewing and listening pleasure. Some of the videos are odd but they’re the best I could find for that song. For example, in #17 “Whiskey Do My Talking” by Brooks & Dunn it seems the ladies in the video are having their own whisky experience as the photos progress. Slightly amusing!

What’s your favorite whisky song? Did I miss any big hits? Tell me in the comments!

“Water of Life” Playlist

  1. “American Pie” -Don McLean
  2. “Whiskey in the Jar” -Metallica
  3. “Whiskey River” -Willie Nelson
  4. “Whiskey Girl” -Toby Keith
  5. “Chivalry” -The Mekons
  6. “Whiskey Tears” -Dierks Bentley
  7. “Whiskey on the Rocks” -AC/DC
  8. “Whiskey Won The Battle” -Ashton Shepard
  9. “Whiskey Lullaby” -Brad Paisley & Allison Krauss
  10. “Canadian Whiskey” -Nanci Griffith
  11. “Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound” -Hank Williams Jr
  12. “Whiskey, If You Were A Woman” -Highway 101
  13. “Whiskey Under the Bridge” -Brooks & Dunn
  14. “Wasted Whiskey” -Rodney Atkins
  15. “Women Without Whiskey” -Drive-By Truckers
  16. “Whiskey Bottle” -Uncle Tupelo
  17. “Whiskey Do My Talking” -Brooks & Dunn
  18. “Tennessee Whiskey” -David Alan Coe
  19. “Alabama Song” -The Doors
  20. “Let The Whiskey Fall” -Whiskey Falls
  21. “Drinkin’ Dark Whiskey” -Gary Allan
  22. “Whiskey Trip” -Gary Stewart
  23. “There’s A Place In The Whiskey” -Gretchen Wilson
  24. “Whiskey Chasin’” -Joe Stampley
  25. “Hung Up on You” -Fountains of Wayne
  26. “Cheap Whiskey” -Martina McBride
  27. “Tennessee Whiskey” -George Jones
  28. “Beer for My Horses” -Toby Keith ft. Willie Nelson
  29. “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’” -Travis Tritt
  30. “John Law Burned Down the Liquor Store” -Chris Thomas King