Make whisky your chosen Mastermind subject with these nine Scotch whisky facts that every whisky drinker should know.
1) It generates huge tax revenue
The export of whisky generates a healthy £125 a second for the Scottish government. Just under 38 bottles of whisky being exported from Scotland every second. Laid end-to-end, the 99 million cases of Scotch exported each year would run the distance between Edinburgh and New York – six times.
2) A single malt may see several casks
It’s a common misconception that single malt whisky is the product of one cask. In fact, it is the product of a single distillery and may actually come from several casks therein.
3) Scotland has whisky galore!
Scotland is home to more than 20 million casks of maturing whisky. That’s almost four for every person living there.
4) Prices for rare whiskies can be eye-watering
A crystal decanter of Macallan Imperiale ‘M’ whisky scooped the prestigious title of world’s most expensive whisky when it sold at auction in Hong Kong for $628, 205 in 2015. The luxury decanter contains 6 litres of whisky and stands 28 inches tall.
5) It’s name has meaning
Whisky in Gaelic reads ‘uisge beathe’, which means ‘water of life’.
6) A lot of whisky is lost during maturation
Whisky stored in barrels gradually evaporates at an approximate rate of 2% a year. This is referred to as the famous ‘angels’ share’.
7) It’s great for local employment
The reason so many distilleries rely on local employees – often generations of families – is because it’s reckoned that such workforces produce crucially consistent styles.
8) It must come from Scotland
Scotch whisky can only be called Scotch whisky when it has been left for a minimum of three years to age in casks, in Scotland. Some casks hold whisky for considerably more time than this though.
9) Blending softened older, harsher whiskies
Blended whisky came about at a time when single malt whisky was considerably younger and more harsh than it is today. Blends consist of anywhere from 15 to 50 individual whiskies, testament to the blender’s art.