Good whisky takes a while to make. It doesn't seem that complicated on the surface (grain, water, yeast, voilà) until you consider just how many different types of grains can affect the whisky's taste. It's why master blenders take months, if not years, messing with the ingredients in their mashbills--and that's all before they begin to age the distillate. Legally, whisky must sit in oak casks for at least three years. It's during that maturation process where the magic really happens, as the right kind of wood can completely transform the whisky's flavors, smell, and color.
Forget all those whiskey brands from musicians and celebs -- there's A.I. whiskey now. Microsoft this week announced it has teamed up with Finnish tech company Fourkind and Sweden-based distillery Mackmyra Whisky to create the "world's first whisky developed with artificial intelligence." Here's how it will work. As part of the distillation process, whiskey first spends time -- typically years -- sitting in charred wooden casks. This turns the clear liquor a darker color, and gives it a unique flavor.
Unless you're either a) working in or around the industry or b) a passionate fan, I'll bet counterfeit whisky is not an issue you've paid much attention to – assuming you've even heard about it. An enormous fake whisky operation based in London specializing in creating phony "rare" releases was discovered earlier this year. Worse still, counterfeit Jack Daniels in Russia actually ended up killing more than 30 people – with the final number not known. A number of efforts are underway to combat the problem. In early summer, a company called Distilled Solutions unveiled a small machine that can scan a bottle to verify its authenticity.
Rachel Barrie is one of the few women ever to hold the title of Scotch whisky master blender. In her 26-year career, Rachel has sniffed or sipped 150,000 different whiskies. She is a trailblazer in what was traditionally a male-dominated industry, having held the coveted title since 2003. As arguably the most prominent woman in her field, Rachel can reasonably be described at the First Lady of Scotch whisky. It's a role which requires a wide range of skills - not least in nosing or tasting thousands of casks of whisky every year to ensure consistency in existing products or to create new flavour combinations.
The oldest whisky still in the world has been uncovered at a medieval abbey where William Wallace took refuge after defeating the English in battle. Archaeologists found what they believe to be an installation used for the distillation process at Lindores Abbey in Fife. The first ever written record of Scotch whisky distillation took place in the abbey in 1494, according to the exchequer rolls of King James IV. Lindores Abbey was founded in 1191 by David Earl of Huntingdon on land given to him by his brother King William. It is believed William Wallace rested in the abbey after the Battle of Black Earnside in 1298 with 300 of his soldiers after they defeated the English. In 1305 Wallace was captured in Robroyston near Glasgow.