Welcome to our first installment of #WhatTheHeckWithHenry - where our incredibly handsome and photogenic cat, Henry, explains what the heck this ingredient is.
Whiskey: what the heck is it?
Whiskey distillation is a highly complex, scientific process that requires an immense knowledge of agriculture, chemistry, and engineering - not to mention the art of tasting and blending the final product to create something amazing. Let’s start with the basics!
Made of grains - the most common are corn, barley, wheat, and rye. (Think about the flavors of bread made from those grains - how would you describe them?) Some producers experiment in making whiskeys with other grains, such as quinoa, millet, oats, and rice.
Grains are fermented - it’s the same basic process that created that sourdough starter we were all making at the beginning of the pandemic! Yeast does its magic and essentially creates a beer.
Beer is run through a still - a complex piece of machinery that heats the beer and separates the alcohol from the rest of the mix. Yep, it’s distilled down to a clear liquid, sometimes called “white dog.”
Whiskey is aged - meaning, it is put into barrels and left to sit for a long time (anywhere from months to many years). Nature and chemistry work their processes on the liquid, and when it comes out of the barrel, it’s no longer clear. The color can range from light yellow to a dark brown, depending on how long it aged and the conditions it was placed in. And...now it’s tasty! Whiskey right off the still can taste...well, like fire 🔥 in your mouth. The barrel aging process mellows out the liquid, imparts yummy flavors like vanilla and caramel, and gives it that “smoothness” that people like to talk about in a whiskey.
Whiskey is a versatile spirit that plays well with so many other ingredients or is lovely to sip on its own. We’ll dive more into that in the future!
What burning questions do you have about whiskey? What are your favorites to drink? Let’s talk whiskey in the comments! 👇