SWA - Questions & Answers 2013

14 Nov 2013

Scotland is the home of Scotch Whisky and host to the greatest concentration of distilleries in the world. There are more than 100, making Malt Whisky by the centuries-old Pot Still method or Grain Whisky in the Coffey or Patent Still which has been in use since 1831.

Few products are so closely linked with the environment, culture and people of their country of origin as Scotch Whisky. Scotch Malt Whisky is usually classified in one of five main categories - Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay, and Campbeltown - according to the location of the distillery in which the spirit is made. While many Malt Whisky distilleries bottle some of their production for sale as Single Malt - the product of one distillery, most of the Scotch Whisky consumed today is Blended Scotch Whisky. This means that it is a blend of as many as 50 different Malt and Grain Whiskies, all blended skillfully to maintain consistent quality and fl avour. Scotch Whisky is Scotland's leading indigenous product, and is of major importance to the economy not only of Scotland, but of the United Kingdom as a whole. Sold around the world for more than 100 years, Scotch Whisky is now established as the leading international spirit drink, making it one of Britain's most important exports.

There are, however, many aspects of Scotch Whisky distilling and blending that are not generally understood. The Scotch Whisky Association has therefore produced this handy reference book to provide answers to the many questions which frequently arise. There is often confusion, for example, over the length of time that Scotch is matured. Most whiskies mature far longer than the legal minimum of three years, and the maturation
period varies for different whiskies.

The age statement on a bottle refl ects the amount of time the youngest whisky in that bottle has spent maturing in a cask. The distiller, when making whisky, and the blender, when laying it down for maturation, are not aiming to satisfy immediate consumer demand. They must attempt to forecast likely demand ten years or more ahead. It is thus impossible to relate production fi gures in any one year with consumption fi gures for that same year. Many distilleries welcome visits by members of the public. It is often necessary to make arrangements in advance, but many distilleries have extensive visitor facilities and do not require prior warning of a visit.

To prepare this book, the Association has had the assistance of many people in the Scotch Whisky industry, all expert in their own fields, to whom it is indebted.