Answers to Scotch questions you don’t dare ask

New to Scotch? Burning with queries too obvious to voice?

Let me answer your Scotch Questions now.

Fear not, chances are the advanced elite wouldn’t have a clue if you asked them either.

Relax and take note, then give the notes to them.

Is Scotch gluten free?

The honest answer is, probably. Understandably, that isn’t all that reassuring when the worst that can happen is that you need to seek medical attention.

Even though Scotch is derived from barley, a gluten grain, the distillation process which makes Scotch an alcohol removes most of these gluten proteins. 

Your chances of having a reaction are incredibly slim.

However, ask a Coeliac expert and they will tell you to stick with potato vodkas.

How many calories are in whisky?

By a cocktail menu’s standards, very few indeed. In a Scotch which is 50% alcohol, we’re talking about 80 calories per 35ml.

Of course if you start messing around with mixers like cherry coke, grenadine syrup and sugared sprigs; those numbers change considerably.

As long as you don’t turn your dram into a pick n’ mix emporium, you can safely work with the logic that beer bellies are offset by whisky waists.

What does Scotch taste like?

That’s a bit like asking when Justin Bieber’s career will end; a hopeful but perpetually unresolved enquiry.

Scotch can taste of all sorts, literally; Jura likes to team its malts with liquourice.

More broadly, Scotch can have a citrus edge complemented with a light, grassy taste, particularly in the Lowlands. Elsewhere, and especially in Islay, Scotch can be packed with peaty smoked notes. Take a sip, and if it tastes like Lapsang Souchong on a bender, you’ll know it’s the latter.

Another good way of thinking about the taste of Scotch is to look at Scotland itself. The Gaelic for whisky is ‘uisge beatha’ or ‘water of life’ and at the end of the day this whisky is made from the barley, water and peat which surround its distilleries. So saying ‘this tastes mossy’ or making poetic comparisons with hay, can actually be pretty accurate. 

Can Scotch go bad?

Technically, an unopened bottle of Scotch can last forever. Air is the only true evil to whisky; once the liquid is oxidized it is no longer immortal.

After opening, as long as you store your whisky in a cool, dry place, it will last another 5 years. The snobs will tell you that once you have half a bottle left, you’ve only got another 1-2 years left, and once you’re down to a quarter of a bottle, it’s more like 3-4 months.

We’d just ask you why on earth you haven’t finished it yet. 

Is Scotch Kosher?

Scotch in its purest form is entirely kosher. However, single malts can often be matured in sherry casks. Sherry, as a form of wine, is not kosher. Macallan Sherry Oak might be one to dodge, for instance.

Simple answer is, check the bottle. Distilleries such as Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, Auchentoshan, Bowmore, Glen Garioch, Glenrothes and Tomintoul are now producing kosker-certified whisky. If you’re not sure, mourn the loss and move on.

What does Scotch neat mean?

Scotch neat is scotch and scotch only. No water, no mixers, just whisky.

Ironically, from thereon-in things can get messy.

Is Scotch good for you?

And here is where being an optimist pays off, yes Scotch is good for you! In moderation, obviously.

Scotch has been praised by real life, not on commission, health experts, for its ability to prevent heart attacks, blood clots, strokes, dementia and even cancer.

A lot of this is down to the ellagic acid which is found in whisky; a very powerful antioxidant.

We’re not saying whisky has the same benefits as a spinach milkshake, but it’s certainly got its unexpected perks.

Is Scotch always Scottish?

What do you think? Yes. The answer is yes.

How old is Scotch?

By law, Scotch whisky must be matured in a cask for at least 3 years. However, when a bottle states an age, such as ’21 year old’, that means the Scotch it is AT LEAST this old.

NAS, or no age statement Scotch, won’t say how old it is, but it will still be at least 3 years old. Otherwise it just ain’t Scotch.

How do you order Scotch at a bar without looking pretentious?

You don’t. You just own it and hope others will see the light one day.

Tags: caloriesDrinkWiregluten freeKosherscotchScotch neat
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My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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