Whisky is a globally renowned drink, but most people assume it is typically produced in either Scotland, Ireland or America. But did you know that whisky is produced in many other countries?
When I first started learning about whisky it surprised me that whisky was produced, and was massively popular, in countries like Japan and India.
But these are not the only places where the good stuff is made. There are plenty of international distilleries out there, in places you might not think to look.
Take for example Taiwan. The whisky produced here is called Kavalan, distilled in Yilan County and named after the indigenous people of this area. It is owned by King Car Group.
Now, coming from a country with not much of a history in distilling the water of life, you might not think that Kavalan was that big of a deal. But oh, how wrong you would be.
It is quickly moving up the ranks as one of the world’s best drams, destroying the legacy of Scotch in blind taste tests and winning awards left, right and centre.
Kavalan has claimed the title of Best New World Whisky 2012 in the World Whisky Awards as well as New World Whisky of the year in Jim Murray legendary 2012 Whisky Bible.
And I bet you didn’t even know Taiwan had a distillery, never mind such an impressive one!
Closer to home, there are a vast number of European countries that have turned their hands to producing some of the finest whisky available.
Belgium, for instance, like Taiwan, has one distillery and is doing pretty well with just that.
The Belgian Owl, based in Hesbaye region of Belgium, is making quite a name for itself, with awards from the likes of Jim Murray, being awarded the Liquid Gold Award four years in a row, as well as receiving the Grand Gold Award from the Monde selection, also four years in a row.
It does well to look beyond the borders of Scotland for good whisky.
While countries like Taiwan and Belgium may only have one distillery, there are countries such as Switzerland and Norway who are storming ahead with their whisky production.
Switzerland has about 20 or more distilleries with around 59 brands, not very big in comparison to some of the more popular whisky producing countries such as America or Scotland, but still pretty impressive considering grain distilling only became legal here in 1999.
Norway, while it has more than one distillery does not have many, less than 10 in fact. But this does not stop from creating headlines in the whisky world.
At the beginning of 2014 it was announced that the world’s first “Arctic” whisky was to be produced in the tiny town of Myken, near the northernmost part of Norway.
Making use of desalinated seawater and maturing in the land of the midnight sun and Northern Lights, this whisky promises to have something unique about it.
The Arctic distillery is the brainchild of Roar Larson, a scientist at the Sintef Institute, who first visited Myken after discovering it whilst sailing with his family.
This product is sure to put Norway firmly on the whisky map, and only time will tell just how far it will open up the doors to other international distilleries looking to make their mark.
You never know, we could soon be hearing of more exotic whisky in years to come, perhaps even one day distilleries will look beyond earth and we’ll have our first Mars Malt!