Scotch: How to Choose a Bottle of Whisky
Did you know we offer a cheese collection specifically designed to pair with whisky? Our Scotch Collection includes generous portions of Danish Blue Cheese, Gruyere, Cheddar, and Parmesan.
We thought we would put together some top tips to help you choose a scotch, as we know it can be rather daunting when you are faced with a shelf full of options.
What is Scotch?
Scotch is whisky that is made in Scotland. It is mostly made from malted barley, in comparison to American bourbon whiskey which is distilled from corn.
You will often hear a whisky described as ‘peaty’. This means that peat, an accumulation of decaying plant matter, has been used to help malt the barley. It imparts a smoky flavor with rich, grassy qualities.
Some whiskies are sweeter and will have flavors of fruit, vanilla, or spices. Malt and honey might come through, or for the lightest scotch, you may even taste floral notes.
Regions of Scotland
There are four recognized regions for scotch to come from: Highland, Speyside, Islay, and Lowland. Whilst there are some characteristics typical of these regions, this is due to the work of the disChotillery, not the growing conditions in each location. So, unlike when selecting a wine, you don’t need to be as tied to seeking out bottles from specific locations.
Because the Highland region is so large, there is a lot of variation, but generally speaking the whiskies are spicier in the North, whilst they become sweeter in the South. Lowland Scotch is generally lighter and less peaty. Speyside distilleries tend to produce malty, sweet scotch, whilst Islay use the most peat, producing very smokey whiskies with a dry finish.
Choosing a Scotch for you
Of course, you need to decide which flavors you prefer when it comes to your drink. Seek advice from your local shops and tell them what you do and do not like so that they can find you a whisky that fits your preferred flavor profile.
If you’re just starting out trying scotch, then you might want to try a light coloured bottle that will have sweet flavors, rather than going for an extremely smoky finish straight away. However, if you know that you love the smoky taste then don’t let us stop you from enjoying it!
How much to spend
Generally speaking, this is a drink that gets more expensive if it is older. This is not only due to the process involved in aging the whisky, but because they are likely to be rarer bottles. Whilst it is absolutely not essential to choose a more expensive, aged bottle, you will find that cheaper whiskies may not have the smoothness or richness of a more prestigious pour. It’s also important to check that you are buying a single malt scotch, rather than a blended whisky.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and they help you to pick out your next bottle. Why not make an evening of it with our Scotch Collection? It can feed up to 20 guests so you’re sure to be able to put together a fun party.
What’s your favorite scotch? Let us know in the comments!
The Scotch Collection – How to Pair Whisky with Cheese
Want to really wow your guests?
We know that you love to pair wine with our cheeses, and we’ve explored how you might try them with beer, but have you ever thought to pair cheese with scotch?
Read on to find out all about our Scotch Collection and why we think this should be the centerpiece of your next party!
You might not have thought to pair scotch with cheese, but rest assured that it’s a great choice. You’re going to be looking for bolder cheeses with a lot of flavors because these will stand up to the strong flavor of the whisky.
Danish Blue Cheese
Our Danish Blue Cheese has a moderate sharpness and a creamy flavor. Blue cheeses have penicillium cultures added, which create the blue veins that you will see running through the cheese. It is then aged in a temperature and moisture controlled environment like a cave. The unique flavors are best enjoyed at room temperature with fruit and crackers, alongside your scotch.
Gruyere is one of our favorite imported cheeses, originating in the Alpine region between Switzerland and France. It has a sweet, nutty flavor with a slight saltiness. It ages into an earthy, complex cheese. It’s great for baking and melting, as well as served with crackers. If you’re looking to serve something more substantial with your scotch, consider serving a quiche using gruyere, a fondue, or even a French onion soup topped with gruyere croutons.
Cheddar was first produced in England as early as 1170 and originated in the village of Cheddar in Somerset. It would be aged in the nearby caves of Cheddar Gorge. It has a sharp, pungent flavor with a firm, slightly crumbly texture. It’s versatile enough to be enjoyed with a huge variety of drinks, including Scotch.
Parmesan is an Italian cheese with a complex, sharp, and nutty flavor. It has a slightly grainy texture and works well with pasta, risotto, or soup when grated. You may not have included it in your cheese boards before, but you can be confident that it’s a great choice. Because of its strong flavor, it pairs extremely well with the strength and smokiness of a good whisky.
Choosing your whisky
To pair with this cheese collection, you are looking to get a scotch whisky, rather than a bourbon. If you have a favorite, then select that or one from the same region as you’re likely to find a similar flavor. If your friends are whisky connoisseurs too, why not ask them to bring a bottle and then you can compare flavors?
If you’re entertaining, this collection should serve up to 20 guests. If you have guests who do not drink whisky, grab some craft beers. The barley flavors of both drinks will work well with the cheeses from the Scotch Collection so no-one will be disappointed. You could also pick up some salty snacks such as nuts, hot mix or chips, and some dark chocolate as a sweet treat. These will pair well with the scotch and give you even more flavors to explore.
Now that you know all about the cheeses, don’t delay. Order our Scotch Collection today.