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What’s The Difference Between Irish Whiskey & Bourbon?

Scotch, Rye, Irish, Bourbon…With so many options available in whiskeys or whiskies all around the world, it is common to get confused with the varieties. With this article, let’s simplify it for you with an overview of the differences between Bourbon & Irish Whiskey.

Not only do bourbon & Irish whiskey differ in taste, ingredients, production methods, but they also differ in terms of geographical locations where they are produced. For the starters, it’s but safe to say that both are types of whiskeys (or whiskies). While Bourbon is made in America, Irish whiskey as the name suggests is made in Ireland. So, let’s delve a little further to get a better understanding.

Bourbon

Primarily made in Kentucky, it is only produced in America by law. As commonly said and understood, ‘all bourbon is whisky but not all whiskey is bourbon’.

95% of the world’s bourbon is produced in Kentucky, but the law doesn’t restrict its production in other parts of America.

In 1964 the Congress passed a concurrent resolution which declared bourbon as the ‘distinct product of the United States of America’.

To be legally called bourbon, this burnt golden American native has to fulfil the following criterion, namely-

1) Its mash should have at least 51% corn, the remaining proportion consists of other grains such as barley, rye or wheat. While some bourbons use more corns in during fermentation which makes it taste sweeter, others use rye for spice or wheat.

2) It should be aged in new charred oak barrels. The charring process helps Bourbon get its distinct flavour and the golden colour. There are no particular age criteria for bourbon, however, it is aged for a minimum of two years, and the best bourbons come out after four years, though they can be aged for longer.

3) It should be distilled to a maximum of 80% ABV and a minimum of 40% ABV.

4) It should be entered into the barrel for ageing at no more than 125 proof.

Bourbon is distilled in column stills and its flavour changes drastically over the years. During the maturation the right humidity & temperature allow the whiskey to penetrate deeper into the charred oak. It must be matured at least for a minimum of two years in the oak barrels.

Based on the different production processes, there are different types of Bourbons, and each has its own distinctive taste & character.

Irish Whiskey

It is interesting to know that the word ‘whiskey’ has Irish roots. It is derived from the Irish or Gaelic word ‘uisce beatha, which means the ‘water of life’.

Produced in Ireland, Irish whiskey is protected by law to be produced, labelled and marketing to be verified by the Irish revenue authorities. The main ingredient in Irish whiskey is barley malted & unmalted, it is made in the pot still phase, and similar to bourbon it is aged in oak casks.

The law requires Irish whiskey to adhere to the following specifications-

1) It should be distilled in the islands of Ireland from the mash of malted cereals with or without whole grains of other cereals.

2) Only yeast should be used in the fermentation process.

3) The minimum alcohol volume content must be 40% and it must be distilled at an alcoholic strength of less than 94.8%

4) The distillate must mature in wooden casks for a minimum of 3 years & its quantity must not exceed 700 litres in capacity.

5) The alcohol beverages must not be labelled, packaged, sold, advertised or promoted in such a way to suggest they are Irish whiskey or any of the sub-varieties unless they meet the relevant requirements.

To conclude, it all begins with the spelling, whiskey or whisky depends on the country where it is produced. The Americans and Irish prefer an extra ‘e’ in whiskey, whereas, the rest of the world prefers to call it ‘whisky’. So here’s hoping that with the above-mentioned overview, you’re better able to know your whisky!

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Myths And Legends Involving Alcohol

For centuries alcohol has played a significant role in several cultures and religions across the world, giving rise to many myths and legends.
Here we have a short list of some of the commonly known legends and Gods marking the importance of alcohol in some of the ancient cultures.

Bacchus – The Party God

In the rich Greek mythology, Bacchus the son of Jupiter and Semele, is the God of harvest, winemaking and fertility. As the legend goes, upon growing up Bacchus learned about the vines and winemaking. He later travelled around the world on his divine mission to educate people about the art of winemaking.

Many secret rituals were practised by women in ancient Rome to worship him. Even in modern times, a celebration is held in his honour each year in October.

Carrying the legacy of his name forward, there are theme parties and drinking events in the present day. His name also features in the ‘drinking song’ by Longfellow. Bacchus is indeed one famous party God!

Cleopatra and The Pearl

In a rather riveting tale about legendary Egyptian queen Cleopatra and her magnificent pearl, wine finds a short but an important role to play. According to the legend, Cleopatra in a lavish display of her wealth & power had a bet with the Roman leader Marc Anthony that she could spend a fortune (10 million sesterces) on one meal. To win this bet, the queen then plucked one of the pearls from her earrings, dissolved it in the goblet of wine and gulped it!

Tenenet
In ancient Egypt, Tenenet was a multitasker Goddess, who was associated with childbirth and brewing beer! It is also believed that she derived her name from the word ‘tenemu’, which means beer.

Silenus
Silenus is not only the God of beer but also a drinking companion in ancient Greek mythology! He often features as the jovial old man with a big beer belly and is said to be usually drunk. It is also believed that in his state of drunkenness, he is often carried by donkeys or satyrs.

Osiris – The God of Beer & Wine
Osiris was the God of beer & wine who was responsible for the farming by the river Nile. It is believed that he educated the Egyptians about wine-making & brewing beer. He is also known as the God of the afterlife & resurrection, and the families of those who passed on offered alcohol to Osiris to please him.

Bes

The patron of those brewing beer and associated with music, dance & humour, Bes was believed to be the jolly good leprechaun who assisted pharaoh’s army in winning wars and protected their homes. He was portrayed drinking beer. It is believed that the soldiers drank to their victory before going to battle, from ‘Bes-shaped’ mugs.

Shezmu – The Multi-Tasker God of Wine

Shezmu, the Egyptian multi-tasker God is believed to be a maker of perfume, wine & precious oils, and he was also known as the ‘Lord of blood & great slaughter’. According to the great Egyptian mythology, people believed that Shezmu produced grape juice for pharaoh’s wine, and he also crushed the heads of his enemies in that wine press.

Yasigi
In African culture, Yasigi is believed to be the beer Goddess, who is also associated with dance and masks.

Radegast

According to the Czech legend, Radegast was believed to be the God of hospitality and mutuality. He was also associated with the  creation of beer.

Disclaimer: The above-mentioned legends and myths from ancient cultures & religions are purely for informative and entertainment purpose for our readers.

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Classification Of Wines

If you’re new to the wonderful world of wines, you may often find yourself wondering, ‘how to differentiate between the types of wines’? One quick run down the alcobev shop is enough to leave any newbie confused especially since there are numerous choices of wines to pick from.

It is important to have your groundwork figured out in order to avoid being in a fix.

And, this article intends to do just that as we bring you a brief overview that helps you to understand the classification of wines.

Read on to find out more…

Wines are commonly classified on the following basis –

Place of Origin or Appellation

‘Appellation’ of wine is defined as the legally marked geographic location where a particular wine originates, or from where the raw materials are sourced as the basis of differentiating characteristics. This system of classification aims at protecting the unique character & quality of the wine.
Commonest examples for wine appellation are ‘champagne’ and ‘Chianti’. The strict European regulations require only the wine made from the grapes produced in the Champagne region of France can be labelled as ‘champagne’. Similarly, Chianti is any wine produced in the Chianti region of central Tuscany in Italy.

Vinification Method & Style

Vinification of wine refers to the winemaking process which includes the selection of grapes, the fermentation process leading to alcohol, and bottling of wine.

Based on the wine-making method, wines are classified into the following categories, namely –

Table Wines;

Sparkling Wines & Champagne;

Semi-Sparkling or Still Wines;

Fortified Wines & Dessert Wines.

The process of vinification for still wines differs from that of effervescent sparkling wines which have carbon dioxide naturally produced during fermentation. Table wines or natural wines are consumed with food; sparkling wines & champagne are consumed mostly during celebrations and, fortified wines or dessert wines are consumed after the meal. These are also used for cooking purposes.

Taste (Sweetness)

The taste defines the character of wine which can range from sweet to dry and bitter. The level of sweetness in wine is attributed to the factors which control sweetness, such as acidity, tannin, alcohol levels, carbon dioxide, etc.

Tannins are found in the grape skins. They are natural polyphenols, which add to the bitterness, astringency and complexity in wines.

An increased level of alcohol can the sweetness in the wine, whereas, high acidity levels can make wine taste dry. Red wines have tannin which makes them less sweet as compared to white wines which have high acidity.

Vintage or Variety

When it comes to the classification of wines, vintage refers to the wines are made from the grapes grown & harvested during a specific single year.

Variety classification refers to the variety of grapes grown and used in the winemaking process such as Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. Varietal wines are made using a dominant grape variety. For a wine to be labelled so, it must have a minimum of 75% of the dominant grape variety used in vinification.

With the above-mentioned information, we hope that this article has helped you to establish the correct basics.

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