Glossary of Terms
ABV: Alcohol By Volume - The proof percentage of alcoholic content. Tried strength or quality.
Age: How many years the whisky was actually matured for.
Angels' Share: The amount of alcohol that evaporates from the casks during maturation. On average anywhere up to 2% of the spirit is lost per year. Quite often on long maturations(50+ years) you can only be left with a handful of bottles worth in the casks.
Blended Malts: Whisky made from a mixture of up to 50 different single malts.
Blended Scotch Whisky: Producers, mainly in the Highlands and Islands, make small quantities of flavoursome malt whisky, whilst larger distilleries make large quantities of more neutral grain whisky to add volume to the malt. The result is blended Scotch.
Bourbon: American whiskey that is made from a grain mixture of at least 51% corn, aged in new charred oak barrels and bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV. Bourbon does not have to come from Kentucky, as widely believed, it can be produced anywhere in the US and be released as Bourbon whiskey.
Butt: Tall, narrow cask made from European oak and used prodominently in the sherry industry in Spain. Capacity of approximately 500 litres.
Campbeltown: Region lying on the West coast of Scotland.
Cask Strength: Whisky bottled at the alcoholic strength at which it aged in the cask, without being diluted to 40% ABV with water.
COA: Certificate Of Authenticity.
Distilled: The year in which the distillation process took place.
Grain Whisky: Whisky that is distilled from maize or wheat.
Highlands: Largest Region, plenty of variety. We also include the Islands as part of this category.
Hogshead: Made from American white oak and widely used for maturing Bourbon before being sent to Scotch whisky distilleries to use in their own production. Holds approximately 250 litres.
Independent Bottler: These companies buy casks from distillers, or alternatively send empty ones to be filled, and then store and choose when to release them. Quite often bottled from a single cask at natural cask strength. Some of the big indie bottler's include; Signatory Vintage, Cadenhead, Gordon & MacPhail, SMWS, Douglas Laing and Duncan Taylor.
Islay: Regional island, of which it is said that the whiskies tend to be smoky and peaty! Our most extensive range and home to our specialist Laphroaig selections.
Lowlands: Region where the whisky tends to be light, dry and fruity.
Madeiera Drum: Huge dumpy barrel, approx 650 litres, made from French oak that are used in the Madeira wine industry and occasionally used in the finishing of whisky.
Mothballed: If a distillery has been mothballed it means it has closed down production whilst preserving production machinery and facilities for possible future use.
NAS: No Age Statement
OB: Original Bottling.
Peat: Used in the malting stage with barley, leaving a smoky smell to the whisky, often found in Islay whiskies.
Proof: 7/4 times the ABV in the UK and twice the ABV in the USA. Proof used to be the term used in the UK to relay to the customer the content of alcohol in an alcoholic beverage, ABV is used more commonly now.
Puncheon: These large casks, approximately 500 litres, are used in the sherry and rum industries and often used to finish off whisky.
Quarter Cask: Approximately 50 litres, which is a quarter of an ASB (American Standard Barrel). Also known as a Firkin by brewers.
Rare Malts Selection: Collection of limited edition, cask strength bottling's from United Distillers (later to become Diageo). First released in the mid-1990s, but has since ceased production - making these malts really live up to their branding!
Rye Whiskey: Produced from a mash of least 51% rye and aged in new charred-oak barrels. Rye whiskey is spicier and fuller bodied than Bourbon.
Scotch Malt Whisky Society: A group dedicated to fine malt whisky, founded some 30 odd years ago, now has tens of thousands of members and contributes some fine whiskies, some of which you will come across on this site!
Scotch Whisky: A whisky can only be called a Scotch whisky if it was made in Scotland and it has been matured for at least three years.
Single Barrel: Whisky that is bottled from a single cask, from one distillery.
Single Malts: Whisky produced in one distillery, from pure barley malt that is never blended.
Slàinte Mhath: Gaelic term, literally meaning "good health", ideal phrase when toasting a dram of your favourite!
Speyside: Region in which you will typically come across the sweetest malt whiskies.
Uisge Beatha: The Gaelic word for whisky, literally translating to 'Water of Life'.
Unblended: From one distillery, never mixed with anything else.
Vatted Malts: Exactly the same as a blended malt. Does not contain any grain whisky.
WhiskyFun: Highly respected tasting and review website run by Serge Valentin, who has rated and slated over 10,000 whiskies since 2002.