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How Much Do You Actually Know About Scotch Whisky?

Let's see how much you remember from all those distillery tours.

Posted on
Flickr / Via Flickr: scottsimphotography / Creative Commons
  1. 1. Let's start with an easy one. What is the main grain ingredient in Scottish malt whisky?

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    Incorrect
    Wheat
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    Correct
    Incorrect
    Barley
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Corn
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Oats
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: Barley

    The three main ingredients in Scottish malt whisky are barley, water, and yeast. It's practically one of your five a day.

    Correct answer: Barley
    Via geograph.org.uk
  2. 2. What is the "angels' share"?

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    Incorrect
    The name of this year's Grand National winner.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The 2-4% of alcohol volume that tends to get lost to evaporation each year during the whisky maturation process.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A club in Aberdeen.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The whisky that you tip onto the ground when you say slàinte.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: 2-4% of alcohol volume

    While whisky is maturing, a certain amount of alcohol – known traditionally as the "angels' share" – is lost to evaporation each year. What a waste!

    Correct answer: 2-4% of alcohol volume
    Thinkstock
  3. 3. What is the minimum alcoholic volume whisky has to have to be labelled "Scotch"?

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    100%
    Correct
    Incorrect
    37.5%
    Correct
    Incorrect
    40%
    Correct
    Incorrect
    25%
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: 40%

    The Scotch Whisky Regulations Act states that to be called Scotch a whisky has to be have a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 40% (80 US proof).

    Correct answer: 40%
  4. 4. The Gaelic term for whisky is uisge beatha, but what does it mean?

    Via Flickr: scottsimphotography
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Alcoholic Irn Bru
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Water of life
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Wreck-the-hoose juice
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Fire water
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: Water of life

    The Romans referred to distilled alcohol as aqua vitae, which was translated into Gaelic as uisge beatha ("water of life"). Uisge (Ish-ka) is the basis for the word whisky.

    Correct answer: Water of life
    Thinkstock
  5. 5. What's the official definition of a "single malt" whisky?

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    A whisky that is made from only one type of barley.
    Correct
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    A whisky that's made by unmarried people.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A whisky with an ABV of over 50%.
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    Incorrect
    A whisky entirely produced from malt in only one distillery.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: A whisky entirely produced from malt in only one distillery.

    Under the Scotch Whisky Regulations Act, a whisky can only be described as a Scottish single malt if it is made from malt barley in only one distillery and aged for a minimum of three years.

    Correct answer: A whisky entirely produced from malt in only one distillery.
    Thinkstock
  6. 6. How strong is whisky when it leaves the cask after aging?

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    Around 60-63%
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    Around 99%
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    Around 40%
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    Around 12%
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: Around 60-63%

    The grain spirit that will become whisky is typically around 65-70% ABV when it's put into casks to mature. Assuming a three-year maturation, after the "angels' share" is taken this reduces to around 60%.

    Correct answer: Around 60-63%
    Thinkstock
  7. 7. Which of these is NOT the name of a single malt?

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    Bruichladdich
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Burnistoun
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The Macallan
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Glenmorangie
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: Burnistoun

    Burnistoun is a very funny Scottish comedy show, not a whisky.

    Correct answer: Burnistoun
    BBC
  8. 8. When was a tax first applied to Scottish whisky, causing a rise in illicit stills?

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    1244
    Correct
    Incorrect
    1644
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    Incorrect
    1944
    Correct
    Incorrect
    2014
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: 1644

    The 1644 Excise Act set a duty of 13p per pint of "aqua vitae" or similar distilled spirits. The law was very unpopular and led to a huge rise in illicit stills. Why pay tax when you could just make booze in the bathtub?

    Correct answer: 1644
    Via commons.wikimedia.org
  9. 9. What are the five official regions of Scottish whisky production according to the Scotch Whisky Association?

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    The Highlands, The Lowlands, The Middle Bit, The Bit With All The Mountains, The Borders.
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    Ben Nevis, Highland, Cambuslang, Lowland, Speyside.
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    Highland, Islay, Speyside, Campbeltown, Lowland.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Islay, Speyside, Lowland, Morningside, Highland
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: Highland, Islay, Speyside, Campbeltown, Lowland.

    Whisky-producing islands Arran, Jura, Mull, Orkney, and Skye are considered to be part of the Highland region, while the Isle of Islay gets full region status as it's home to eight distilleries.

    Correct answer: Highland, Islay, Speyside, Campbeltown, Lowland.
    Thinkstock
  10. 10. Which of these is NOT a brand of blended whisky?

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    Shyte Whisky
    Correct
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    Hankey Bannister
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    Pig's Nose
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Yer Maw
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: Yer Maw

    Yes, there is actually a brand called Shyte Whisky. Despite its name, it's pretty good. There's no whisky called Yer Maw (yet).

    Correct answer: Yer Maw
    Royal Mile Whiskies / Via royalmilewhiskies.com
  11. 11. What does "malting" mean?

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    When you drink so much whisky you lose your hair.
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    The process of spreading damp barley on the ground to germinate.
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    The process of roasting barley before brewing.
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    The process of soaking barley in Horlicks.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: The process of spreading damp barley on the ground to germinate.

    Barley is soaked in a mixture of sugar and water, then spread evenly on the floor of a "malting house" (a distillery outbuilding) to germinate before being processed.

    Correct answer: The process of spreading damp barley on the ground to germinate.
    Thinkstock
  12. 12. What is ground malt barley called?

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    Bampot
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    Incorrect
    Wheesht
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    Incorrect
    Grist
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    Incorrect
    Wort
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: Grist

    The ground barley grain that is added to water to ferment is called grist, hence the phrase "grist to the mill".

    Correct answer: Grist
  13. 13. Which of these is NOT a Scottish distillery?

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    anCnoc
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    Balamory
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    Incorrect
    Balvenie
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Glenglassaugh
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: Balamory

    Balamory is actually a children's TV show set in Tobermory, Mull. There is a Tobermory whisky distillery though.

    Correct answer: Balamory
    BBC
  14. 14. What would you find in a "mash tun"?

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    Whisky that is waiting to be bottled.
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    A combination of ground malt barley and hot water.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    An awesome 1970s TV show set in Vietnam.
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    Incorrect
    A large quantity of potatoes.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: A combination of ground malt barley and boiling water.

    A mash tun is filled with grist and boiling water. It's then stirred to release the sugar in the mixture.

    Correct answer: A combination of ground malt barley and boiling water.
    Thinkstock
  15. 15. And finally...do you have ice with your Scotch?

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    Yes
    Correct
    Incorrect
    No
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Correct answer: Gonnae nae do that.

    Adding ice to Scotch is a crime. It reduces the aroma and dulls the taste. Try adding a drop of water instead. Slàinte!

    Correct answer: Gonnae nae do that.
    Thinkstock

Update: An earlier version of this quiz stated that mash is a combination of ground malt barley (grist) and boiling water. This has been changed to hot water.

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