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I am not pretending to be an authority with 40 years knowledge of the whisky business but I do remember in my younger days enjoying from time to time a malt whisky.  I also new by choice I’d ask for a malt, though never quite sure why.

I’ll try and provide a simplistic view of what and why a malt whisky is a fine whisky and with Scotland having in the order of 140 distilleries producing one or more whiskies then I must confess I tend to think of a malt as fine Scotch whisky.

Generally speaking people mean a single malt whisky when they refer to a malt whisky and this is because the malt whiskies are distilled in distilleries which usually only produce one whisky.  It is possible to have more than one brand of whisky from a distillery and this can be attributable to a number of factors.  For example a distillery may have a single malt whisky which is a mere 10 years old and then another brand name which is matured for a full 20 years.  Similarly the unique flavour of a fine whisky is as much about how the whisky is matured and stored and specifically the history of the casks that are used.  The Benriach distillery, for example, produces several brands and they are a mix of age and the casks that have been used.  Benriach specifically refer to whisky being matured in originally American oak casks and then finished either in casks having been used for storing sherry, port or dark rum.  In all these cases the actual distillation process may have been the same but how the fine whisky is stored and for how long are the key factors to the product which is eventually consumed and enjoyed.

The ingredients of a fine malt whisky.

Almost all malt whiskies and made by malting barley gain (though rye grain can be used).  The barley, yeast and water are the only ingredients used in the production of single malt whisky.

In the first instance the barley used is malted, which means, it is soaked in water for a few days. This malting or soaking process is the start of the germination process which leads to the natural starch being converted to a fermentable sugar.  This process is then stopped and the malted barley is dried.  Eventually the dried and germinated malted barley can now be ground or milled to produce something which the industry calls a grist.  From here the grist is combined with hot water to remove the sugary liquid which is called a wort.  This wort will now have the yeast added.  This where the first alcohol is produced and anyone familiar with brewing beer will recognise this process as both are very similar until this stage.

The next stage is where beer making (brewing) and whisky making (distilling) differ because the wort liquid is then distilled which means it is heated to boiling point such that the alcohol boils away but is captured on the cooler condensing surfaces and the alcohol is collected.  This distillation initial process produces a relatively low alcohol strength liquid so the process is repeated (and sometimes a third time) until such time as a liquid is produced which is typically two thirds alcohol by volume.

These are the initial processes of making a scotch single malt whisky.  Note it is not a scotch whisky for another year or two yet!

Fine Scotch Whisky or from the original translations the “Water of Life” has been enjoyed and consumed by millions over many years.


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Unreleased? song by Lauryn Hill featuring Ras Baraka. He is the narrator on her Grammy winning mised of Lauryn Hill CD.

I recently purchased a vineyard in southern France.

I possess no knowledge of the measurement of time taken to grow, harvest the grapes and conseuquently wine.

If someone could educate me on the process i would be very much obliged.

beverage
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drinks
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Whiskycircle.com can be called a complete whisky guide. It can be called a one-stop shop on all that you want to know and share about whisky. It is an online community for whisky-lovers, wherein they can blog, upload images, videos and can even chat with other members about a rare whisky blend.

The viewers of this site can get the most updated information about the history of whisky, how it is prepared, process of whisky tasting, how many different varieties of whisky are available, the latest whisky news and how to enjoy this particular drink at the most. The art of making perfectly amalgamated whisky dates back to the ages of the monks in the 15th century. The delicate whiff of the blended whisky has never been explained clearly even today.

Water is needed in all stages of the production of whisky. It is mixed with the barley to promote germination, it is added to ground barley grist to create a mash and it is required for diluting most whisky before maturation and once again before bottling. Barley, water and yeast are the exclusive ingredients required in the production of single malt Scotch.

The delicate blend of whisky gives it a perfect flavor to enjoy at its best. Whisky falls under the broad category of alcoholic beverages. Malting and mashing at the first stage is required to make whisky and then the fermented mashes is distilled and are kept in wooden casks to preserve its actual tang. Some of the main kinds of whisky are:

Irish whisky:

Irish whiskies are distilled three times and should be kept in casket for at least 3 years. The common types of whiskies in Ireland are single malt, single grain, pure pot still and blended whisky.

Japanese whisky:

Japanese whiskies have also originated from the scotch tradition. These whiskies are made in scotch style but not produced in Scotland.

Canadian whisky:

Canadian whiskies are generally multi-grained whiskies, which are much smoother and lighter than any other whisky style. These types of whiskies are termed as “rye whisky” in Canada.

American whisky:

There are two different types American whisky mainly, straight and blend. These whiskies are kept in the oak casks for at least 2 years. The most common types of American whiskies are bourbon, Rye and com. Bourbon has 51% of maize content

maize in it.

Indian whiskies:

Indian whiskies are the only whisky that is distilled from fermented molasses. But other than Indian sub-continent it will be considered as rum. India has begun to distill whisky from malts and grains.

Whisky circle was created by a small group of whisky aficionados. It started out as a Whisky club where lovers of single malts got together and made small talk over a malt. For further information about whisky please visit www.whiskycircle.com.

Sparkling wine is called sparkling because of those sweet, delightful little effervescence bubbles which are created by trapping carbon dioxide. Sparkling wine is usually the preferred one for special occasions and celebrations. This is probably attributed to the fact that those tiny little bubbles appear to be having their own fun dancing merrily around in your fluted glass. It is difficult to describe the flavor and texture to someone who has never had the pleasure of tasting and feeling it as it is a complete and delightful amazing mystery to most.

When you first open a bottle, the carbon dioxide aroma instantly fills the air is an experience that you have to both smell and see to believe. Sparkling wine is a true feast for all of your senses, and can instantly make any occasion a special celebration. Drinking it is pleasurable which brings several different nutty flavors to your taste buds. Similar to the beauty and elegance of the finest diamonds, it emits a truly splendid aura and romance that makes it immediately distinguishable.

Champagne is indeed a sparkling wine made from the highest quality of grapes, using the highest quality of processing method created hundreds of years ago. Sparkling wines that are labeled champagne can only come from Champagne a small region in northern France. There is a definite and distinct difference between many sparkling wines and champagne because of both the quality and the processing method used to make champagne is extremely complicated. Today there are many wonderful and nice tasting sparkling wines made by several different reputable wineries from quality grapes using the traditional, champagne-like method.

However, there are some also a wide variety of sparkling wines that are made from poor quality grapes and fermented though quick, bulk processing methods and distributed around the world for quick profits. They tend to be sweeter with additional sugars added in to offset the poor quality in grapes and processing. They are pretty easy to spot as they usually are sold at a much lesser price. They do not reflect the original quality because they are not made using the classic champagne-making process. Some people have commented that champagne gives them headaches; but this could be caused by drinking a cheap bottle of sparkling wine that has been made with poor processing standards.

Sparkling wine was first discovered in France by Dom Perignon, who was a monk in the Champagne region. There are many variations of this story, but it appears true that he actually stumbled upon champagne while performing his duties in the Benedictine Abbey. Initially Dom Perignon’s sparkling wine wasn’t popular at first, but it grew to become very popular over the years and today has grown into a multi-billion dollar business. Dom eventually became the chief wine-maker at the abbey and over the many years, perfected the champagne fermenting process until his death in 1715. Once the French people and others tried this amazing sparkling wine, they became immediate and lasting fans. From then on, it didn’t take long for Dom Perignon to become an important legend to come from the rich and cherished wine-making history of France.

The formula and techniques that Dom used to produce sparkling wine eventually become known as the traditional way of making Champagne, called (Methode Champenoise) which includes a second in-bottle fermentation process. The process is still used throughout the world today, producing some of the best sparkling wines. Even though they may be made in various locations, many are in agreement that the best place remains the Champagne region of France, the original birthplace and the first beginning and introduction to the world. There are many, fabulous sparkling wines that come from this region at surprisingly affordable prices. If you have never tasted a sparkling wine or have never experienced one that you enjoy, try a higher quality or even sample the original Dom Perignon. Buy to a higher standard at a price that you can afford, as the quality varies greatly.

These days, bubbly wine is an essential ingredient for celebrations and events. With most celebrations it is the only one of choice for special occasions. There are many wineries that can manufacture high quality sparkling wines, although many prefer the original and still the best, Dom Perignon. No matter what the future of wine will be sparkling wines will always be a popular choice. It remains the wine that marks celebrations, and helps memorable events come to life. From its truly unique and breathtaking taste to its amazing look and splendid aroma, sparkling wine has the appeal and the flavor to keep people celebrating and enjoying life today and for future generations.

The Backyard Wine Enthusiast is a lover of sparkling wines, tasting great wines from around the world. Visit The Wine of the Month.Com to get a wide variety of sparkling wines including the original Dom Perignon and everything else you need to have a great wine party and celebrate life?s special occasions.

Like everything else in life, we want to know which is the ‘best’ vodka. Which vodka is most superior to others. And like everything else in life, we realize that there is no one single answer. For example, I use the latest Intel Pentium Core Duo Processor, as I require it to power my media center, on the other hand, my Grandfather still uses a 11 year old IBM Thinkpad with 4 MB RAM running Windows 3.11 with Wordpad!

Anyway, back to Vodka. Vodka is defined as a neutral spirit devoid of any distinct characteristics such as odour, taste or colour. Considering the above definition all vodkas should be the same and the brand shouldn’t matter. This is true to some extent, in the sense, that the final product of all the brands are more or less similar to each other and while mixed in a blood mary, there is little or no discernable distinction between them. However, if you plan to have them as shots, on the rocks or in a martini, then you are well advised to consume a premium brand.

There are a lot of vodkas out there. And each one is trying to catch your eye, with refreshing marketing, stylish bottles and happening events. This is because of the above noted fact, that the product is more or less same, and hence, marketing plays a big role.

Okay. Now since we are clear about what vodka actually is, lets look at some of the brands. (If you are interested more about the history and other nuances of Vodka, read my article ‘All About Vodka’) I am not affiliated with any of them and I have no particular favourite among them either. So be assured that whatever is said herein is completely unbiased and in the best interest of vodka.

Lets start with the world best selling vodka. Remember, the phrase is ‘best selling’, it doesn’t make the best vodka on the planet. I guess every vodka drinker knows it. Smirnoff. Smirnoff was the first American brand of Vodka, which was bought over from Vladimir Smirnov of Russia. The Smirnoff No. 21 is the most widely sold vodka in the world and is an extremely good example of classical vodka. It has little discerning character, and does not pamper you with slight flavours or a mellow follow through. If you don’t like to think too much and are on a budget, this is the vodka to go for. Have it chilled and experience the Russian in you. Smirnoff also comes in blue and black labels which are of increasing strength. It has also launched numerous flavoured vodkas such as Green Apple Twist, Citrus Twist, Lemon Twist and many more. They are great to have in martinis and light cocktails.

Next up, Grey Groose. Now this is on that has had its fair share of Hollywood exposure. You can hear almost every celebrity asking for a Grey Goose Martini. This vodka brand is truly a marketing brilliance. Winter wheat being distilled with natural spring waters in a French Distillery is surely going to make some heads turn. It is this approach to vodka, that has made Grey Goose a brand to reckon with. But, nothing to be taken away, this is really great vodka to have in your martini. It comes in three flavours: L’Orange, Le Citron and La Vanille. The Citron is great to have in a Lemon Drop Martini.

The third among the most marketed brands is Absolut. This Swedish vodka has the one of the largest number of flavoured vodkas in the market. Its global marketing strategy seems to have paid off in recent times and is considered to be a truly superior vodka in many places in the world. Its neutral variety comes in blue and red labels with increasing strengths. The red bottle (50 % vol) is a really smooth spirit with almost no discernarable taste of its own. The blue bottle mixes extremely well with almost all mixers and makes it great in most cocktails. The flavoured varieties too are very good and for the adventurous there are no dearth of varieties to try from.

Now, lets move onto the lesser marketed, premium brands. I’ll start with what most vodka drinkers and experts consider a truly great and ‘almost perfect’ vodka. Stolichnaya is what it claims to be “a true Russian vodka”. It was founded at the Cristill Distillery in Moscow and is now manufactured in ex-Soviet republics (Kazakhstan and Ukraine). It is quadruple distilled though quartz sand and finally passed through a woven cloth, to give you a vodka free from any flavours or odours. This one is great to have on the rocks.

Next on the list is Belvedere. This is a Polish vodka. However, unlike other Polish vodka this one is made from rye rather than potatoes. The experts are always confused about this one. Many hold it in high regard, while others suggest that the other brands mentioned here, are far superior. For the record, I like it. Still one could argue that with so many different brands with better marketing and “brand appeal”, this vodka still leaves you with something to desire more from.

Our last entry on this discussion would be Belvedere’s sibling: Chopin. However, unlike its sibling, Chopin is made from potatoes; the way authentic polish vodka should. Even though for many years, potato based vodkas have been frowned upon by Russians as inferior, the truth lies in the fact, that with the right distillery, whatever be the ingredient, you can produce superior vodka. And Chopin is a great example of the same. This vodka is crisp and has a sweet and sour green apple tinge to it. It’s the only potato based vodka that is held with such high regard and just for this sake, I urge you to try it at least once. Your Polish experience will definitely be worth it.

There are some other lovely vodka brands as well. Vox, Ketel One, Three Olives and Jewel Of Russia are just a few to name. Vodka, like other spirits, is full of tradition and variety. And to cover all would be an arduous if not impossible task. I hope not to offend anybody with my views. They are mine and others may not agree. As I always maintain wines and spirits are very personal in nature. The best wine or spirit is always the one you enjoy most! With that I humbly conclude this article. Hope you enjoyed it, as much as I need writing it.

This article is written by Gautamm Mehra, a certified bartender and enthusiast. You can write to him at gautam [dot] mail [at] gmail [dot] com.