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Glenlivet's Basics of Scotch

GlenrothesRicky Crawford, the Glenlivet National Brand Ambassador, talked to BurgundyMag.com about The Glenlivet brands of scotch. Originally from Scotland, Ricky came to the states to attend University of Alabama. He now follows the family business.


Q. What is Scotch?
A. Scotch is made from water,  barley and yeast. All the ingredients are fermented and distilled at least twice before the aging process begins in oak barrels. The aging for The Glenlivet Scotch is a minimum of 12 years. Scotch legally can only be labeled as a Scotch if all ingredients were sourced from Scotland's four Scotch areas (Speyside, Highlands, Lowlands and Islay). Also, scotch has to be at least 80 proof (40% alcohol) to be scotch and be distilled for a minimum of three years.

Q. What should a guy look for when choosing scotch?
A. There is Scotch, Whisky, Bourbon and Moonshine. All are made in a similar process but the differences are found in the ingredients, the distillation and number of times distilled, the aging as well as types and sources of caskets used to age these spirits. When looking for a Scotch, consider your price, palate and reputation. Scotch can range in taste from strong to buttery smooth. Look for fruity, woody, tobacco or chocolate essence with respect to taste.

Q. How does the average guy choose between the good scotch and the average stuff? 
A.  Tricky but relatively fair. The longer the aging, the smoother the taste and the more distinctive flavors emerge. The Glenlivet is the oldest continuously operating, legal distillery of scotch in the world. The labels on the package per international standards and law are quite reliable to assist in determining quality between brands of scotch. A single malt is usually preferred over a blend since a single has more distinctive notes. Great scotch would have been aged for over 20 years. Not on the shelf for twenty years but aged in an oak barrel for 20 years or more.

Q. What exactly can you drink with scotch? Is it for shots, or can it be paired with a meal?
A. Scotch by itself or a splash of water.  There are some drink recipes that call for added ingredients but there are not as many as some other distilled spirits. Shots are not preferred for scotch as it is to be tasted, sniffed, savored and sipped on over a period of time. Shots are thrown back and not savored and would be wasting the entire scotch experience. Pairing of meals with scotch is not like a wine selection. Scotch can be an aperitif or simply enjoyed with or without food.

Q. Scotch makes me think of an old man in a smoking jacket.  Is scotch for the older guy just in from hunting? 
A.  That has certainly been a longstanding perception, but no.  The demographics are enlarging and shifting to a younger male and female base of scotch drinkers.  For those who enjoy a quality drink scotch is just another option.

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