National scotch day
July 27th, 2012
09:00 AM ET
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While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.

We look across the pond for today’s food holiday. The Scots have been making whiskies since at least the 15th century, and it’s that tradition we celebrate today: Happy National Scotch Day!

Scotch whisky (generally not “whiskey”; Scotch and Canadian whiskies tend to be spelled without the “e”, while Irish and most American whiskeys use it) by law must be distilled and aged in Scotland from malted barley and, sometimes, other grains. If it’s made with just malted barley and water and bottled as whisky from one distillery, it’s one of the famous “single malt” Scotch whiskies. If a Scotch is made with other grain, it’s referred to as “single grain.” There are also blended Scotches - such as the top-selling Johnnie Walker - that use whiskies from multiple distillers.

Scotch whiskies are aged in oak casks, but unlike American straight whiskeys, the casks don’t have to be new. Many American white oak casks that once held bourbon or other American whiskeys find a second life in Scotland to age Scotch whisky, and some distillers also use casks that formerly contained sherry or port to add different flavors.

Though single malt Scotches are made only from barley and water, their flavors vary enormously depending on where the distillery is located, the kind of water used, the way the whisky is aged and other variables.

Scotch comes from five different regions in Scotland, each with its unique character. Some Scotches are light and floral, such as Glenkinchie from the Lowlands, while others (particularly Laphroaig and other malts from the island of Islay) can be smoky and peaty, with a distinct salty tang reminiscent of iodine. If you’re just starting out with Scotch, consider a fruity and smooth whisky like Glenfiddich, or a nicely complex sherry-like malt such as The Macallan. (Islay malts can be great, but can be an acquired taste, and you may want to work up to them if your palate is new to Scotch.)

Iain McCallum, Master of Malts at Morrison Bowmore Distillers, which makes Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch, says that he didn’t take to his local spirit right away: “As a youth growing up in Glasgow, Scotch was always an intimidating proposition. Whether it be in Hot Toddies: a concoction of sugar, whisky and hot water that was administered by mothers to test the seriousness of sudden, unexpected illness. If you drank the toddy, then she knew that you were genuinely unwell, if however you miraculously recovered she had correctly concluded that it was double maths at school that day.”

More people drink Scotch for fun than medicine these days, whether with soda for a “Mad Men”-style highball, in cocktails such as the Rob Roy, Penicillin and Blood and Sand, or as-is, with perhaps an ice cube or splash of spring water.

But do what you like: “There is no correct or incorrect way to enjoy whisky,” McCallum notes. “The most important thing is that you actually taste the flavor of the spirit.”

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Filed under: Breakfast Buffet • Food Holidays • News • Sip • Spirits

soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. win 7

    buy win 7 home.thank you.

    February 22, 2013 at 12:58 am |
  2. refillable e cigarettes

    Usually I do not learn article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite great post.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:01 am |
  3. brian

    what's your favorite scotch?

    August 2, 2012 at 5:42 am |
    • Carn E. Vore

      Balvenie Port Wood

      August 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  4. Scotland,YouTube,Abandoned,Post Rock,Forgotten,Derelict

    Thanks for the good writeup. It in reality was once a leisure account it. Glance advanced to far delivered agreeable from you! However, how could we keep up a correspondence?

    August 2, 2012 at 5:09 am |
  5. Proud to be American

    Typical foreign liquor loving article driven by socialist liberal commie infiltrated media. They want you all to be inebriated and unable to think for yourselves and when you are not looking they will take away your guns, your freedom, and raise your taxes. Keep your Scotch to yourself Scotland. We in America work hard and don't need to waste time and money with your overpriced productivity killers.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Peter Knight

      Yeah. Damn right. Now where did the moonshine go?

      August 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • WasabiPotPie

      I'll gladly take your share and you can have my share of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

      August 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  6. SixDegrees

    Due to an unfortunate incident many years ago, scotch tastes like barf to me and always will.

    July 30, 2012 at 3:13 am |
  7. lochlan

    Big scotch drinker here. Tried many and have done the whiskey trail. I'd have to say MacAllan's my favorite of all I've tried that is normally available at restaurants and bars.

    July 29, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  8. chefdugan

    I drink scotch every day but after reading these lame comments I think I'll switch to bourbon.

    July 29, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • scott bleyle

      I'm not as think as you drunk I am.

      July 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Adam

      That's a shame. Drink what you like. Scotch tastes good.

      July 29, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  9. Raffle

    Balvenie Double Wood or The Dalmore Cigar Malt–Oh, yeah!

    July 29, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Suzette

      STOP the Obama-Pelosi War against Medical Marijuana Patients. STOP the Hypocrite beer-drinkers with badges.

      July 29, 2012 at 12:19 am |
      • John77

        Hey Suzette – the people who drink alcohol kill over 50,000 innocent victims per year on American roads.

        July 29, 2012 at 12:26 am |
        • chefdugan

          I'll be delighted to run over you with my car after I've had a glass or two. Have you always been that stupid?

          July 29, 2012 at 9:22 am |
      • chefdugan

        You have a hard time staying on subject and focusing. Please seek therapy.

        July 29, 2012 at 9:21 am |
        • Chef Anti-Dugan

          Wake-Up chefdugan -- Alcohol Drinkers are the largest and most dangerous terrorist group in America.

          July 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  10. jack the dog

    I second The Balvenie! Yum!!

    July 28, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  11. jack the Dog

    Second The Balvenie!! Yum!

    July 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  12. Daily Llama

    Stop drinking Scotch with training wheels: Bowmore!

    July 28, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  13. WHAT?

    Jameson's – the purest and finest.

    July 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  14. Ontherocks

    Blends, Cutty Sark

    Light and smooth, Oban

    Island malt, Talisker

    All good...Oban and Talisker neat or with a splash, Cutty on the rocks.

    July 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  15. There's Help if you want it...

    July 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Linda Q.

      STOP the Obama-Pelosi War against Medical Marijuana Patients. STOP the hypocrisy Nancy.

      July 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
      • mikey

        Linda, STFU

        July 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
        • tommy chong

          Skip the Scotch and roll me a phattie!

          July 28, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Rob

      Believe it or not, it's possible to enjoy (and be knowledgeable about) spirits without being an alcoholic. If you don't like it, don't partake. It really is that simple....

      July 30, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  16. o walking eagle

    us us natives partake in the other side of the pond spirits....let it fly

    July 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  17. JohnW

    Guess I'll have to have a bit of cask strength Laphroaig tonight. Maxim calls it the most macho scotch, and if you try it you'll see why.

    July 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Lagavulin, Oban or Ardbeg Corryvreckan for me!

      July 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
      • Sam Meyer

        Depending on my mood, Auchentoshan Three Wood, Lagavulin, Talisker, Bowmore 10, Macallan Fine Oak 15, or Glenrothes here. Though lately I've been enjoying Hibiki, a Japanese blended whisky that's in the Scotch style.

        July 28, 2012 at 2:32 am |
        • chefdugan

          Gee, I've never encountered a scotch snob before. You MUST get together with the wine snobs and smell some corks!

          July 29, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • rob

      That's like having a camp fire in your mouth.

      July 29, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  18. Primal 4 Life

    Love scotch, without question the very best of any style wisky produced. Nothing else even comes close

    July 27, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  19. SB

    Auchentoshan 12, neat. Cheers!!

    July 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  20. chuck

    Lagavulin 16 - just the right peatiness... takes me back to a B&B just north of Tyndrum, on the West Highland Way. Great friendly people in those parts...

    July 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • George Miron

      Lagavulin 16 year old is too sherry-ish... doesn't fit the style at all... see if you can find some 12 year old... (the way they used to bottle it before the bean-counters got involved...)

      July 28, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  21. les

    Scotch with a touch of Drambuie... MMMMMMM

    July 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  22. Texas Gentelman

    I nice glass of JW Blue Label will hit the spot tonight.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  23. Mark L

    Scotch Scotch Scotch, I love Scotch.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  24. WHAT?

    Please don't compare Scotch whiskey to Irish whiskey. As with most liquors and beers, what is available in the U.S. is absolutely awful.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Primal 4 Life

      Plenty of great scotch available in the sates there mate.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Country Distiller

      My Scottish ancestors settled in the mountains of the deep south. The Apple Jack and Corn Likker we make ourselves in the holler blows any of your snooty scotch away.

      July 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      I don't know what you are smoking. I've had good single malts here in the states and sitting in a pub in Scotland, there is no difference.

      July 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  25. Stuck in the Middle

    Friday always calls for two fingers of The Balvenie, neat.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  26. Ron Burgundy

    Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down. Down into my belly.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Solo

      LOL! One of Ferrell's best!
      (Hoping the sequel is too.)

      July 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  27. Carn E. Vore

    I think I'll celebrate with a nice glass of Caol Ila.

    July 27, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • joe

      the BEST!!!

      July 29, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
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