Types of Whisky

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There are mainly three types of whisky; malt whisky, grain whisky, and blended whisky. While there may be only three general types, there are dozens of sub-types. And that is where things can get confusing.

In a nutshell, malt whisky is derived solely from barley. Grain whisky is derived from either corn, wheat, rye or a combination of those three grains, often with a small percentage of barley added. Whereas, blended whisky is a mix of the whisky types i.e. corn whisky, wheat whisky, rye whisky, etc).

At one time, rectified alcohol was sometimes added to boost alcohol content. But this is now illegal in the United States and most whisky producing nations.  Neutral spirits are highly concentrated ethanol with a minimum ABV of 95%; this is potent stuff. Distillers can use grains, grapes, sugar beets, potatoes, molasses and other fermented plant material, including distilled wine to make neutral spirits.

Neutral spirit is colorless, orderless, and tasteless. It’s what some might call vodka and it’s also the foundation for gin. It’s because of these neutral characteristics that whisky distillers add it to their blends as it does not affect the flavor or character of their whisky but can help them tweak the alcohol content.