Made only in Scotland, this distinctive liquor uses barley for flavoring instead of the corn that's used for most American whiskies. The characteristic smoky flavor of Scotch comes from the fact that the sprouted malted barley is dried over peat fires. Although Scotch must be distilled and aged for 3 years (the majority for 5 to 10 years) in Scotland, it may be bottled in other countries. There are two main types of Scotchmalt and grain. Malt whisky is produced in an old-fashioned pot still (see distillation) and aged for up to 15 years. It's made from malted barleygrain that's been germinated or sprouted, which converts its starch to sugar. Grain whisky is distilled in a continuous still and made with malted barley mixed with various unmalted grainsprimarily corn, but also barley and wheat. It's aged for 6 to 8 years and used primarily for blending. Blended Scotch is a combination of up to 50 different malt whiskies plus grain whisky. Such Scotches are blended for consistency and have a more uniform aroma and flavor than single-malts. Single-malt (unblended) Scotch is malt Scotch that's produced and bottled by a single distillery without being blended with other Scotch whiskeys. It varies significantly from distiller to distiller because distillation techniques, aging practices, differences in the local water and myriad other environmental factors. Highlands Scotch and Lowlands Scotch are single-malt Scotch descriptors referring simply to geographical locations but not necessarily describing particular flavor characteristics. To determine the boundary between highlands and lowlands, draw a line across Scotland from Greenrock to Dundee, which would be the border between the Highlands (north of the line) and the Lowlands (south of the line). Traditionally, whiskies made in Scotland are spelled without the "e." See also liquor; whiskey.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.