What you need to know:
- If you’re wondering why the spelling of whisky is without an ‘e’ in this case, it’s because Scottish whisky is traditionally spelt without an ‘e’.
- The history behind this is longer than this article has space for, but in short, to impress your friends, that’s the quickest way to know it’s not from Scotland (or Canada).
It’s World Whisky Week! In my opinion, it’s the week, as opposed to the day, which is usually commemorated on the third Saturday of each May, a tradition that started in 2012. That Saturday is May 15, for this month. And yes, we certainly do know that all holidays are secretly an excuse to make you buy something or go somewhere, but who doesn’t want an excuse to drink whisky? As if we need one!
If you’re wondering why the spelling of whisky is without an ‘e’ in this case, it’s because Scottish whisky is traditionally spelt without an ‘e’. The history behind this is longer than this article has space for, but in short, to impress your friends, that’s the quickest way to know it’s not from Scotland (or Canada).
I, obviously, personally commemorated World Whisky Week/Day by actually having whisky at an Ardbeg whisky tasting hosted by Antoinne Bbayaga, East Africa’s Glenmorangie and Ardbeg Brand Ambassador, and Ardbeg’s Master of Smoke Richard Gillam, the Spirit Brand Ambassador (Luxembourg). Ardbeg generously provided two cocktails to enjoy, as Richard took us through a master class in whisky drinking.
I do enjoy these masterclasses (at this point in my career, I’ve been to a couple!) because I’m always learning something new about whisky. For instance, on this night, I learnt that whisky’s original translation meant water of life. I suppose since it’s being made on a cold island from peat that you have to wait to layer to burn up and give it its flavour, that warmth does provide you with life, right? Right!
Whisky is a spirit, meaning it’s been distilled. Scottish whisky only qualifies as Scottish when it’s been distilled and put into a barrel for at least three years – and these years must be in Scotland, otherwise, it doesn’t count. And single malt whisky indicates that everything comes from a single distillery, as opposed to a blended whisky.
I usually drink this particular whisky most often with my brothers; they favour its peaty, smoky essence, and its smoothness, and I’ve come to appreciate it too; whether it’s the 10 Years Old or the Ardbeg An Oa. Of course, they frown at me every time I’m trying to put anything in there – even water, which is totally allowed to be in there! I do confess though; it’s mostly Coke (hides face). But according to Richard – a whole Master of Smoke – whisky is to be drunk however you please. The point is to revel in it, not be judgy about it. I think I’ll just pass this nugget of wisdom on to my brothers…
A quick tip: the trick with adding anything to alcohol to make it a cocktail is balance. Whisky is a strong flavour, which is to be complemented, not overpowered. Experiment how you like, and use enough ice that your drink stays frosty good instead of diluted. The more ice you use, the better.