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Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey 08:11

Julian Cox

Understanding the different makes and origins of whiskeys will enable you to identify the nuances of its flavor, and hone your preference for one type over another.

Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey 08:11

Julian Cox

Understanding the different makes and origins of whiskeys will enable you to identify the nuances of its flavor, and hone your preference for one type over another.

Prep Time Cook Time Total Time Serving Size

The Steps

  1. 1. Whiskey is divided into categories where bourbon, rye, and scotch are the most commonly consumed. Bourbon whiskey is highly regulated. It must be made with 51% corn. The ingredients that make up the remaining 49% are specific to the distiller; they are what gives rise to the varying notes and flavors of different whiskies. American bourbon must be stored in a new, charred oak barrels. Charring the oak helps to bring out vanilla and caramel notes in the bourbon whiskey. Bourbon must be distilled at no more than 160 proof. In wheated bourbon, wheat is the secondary grain ingredient. Wheated bourbons have softer, nuttier tastes than those bourbon varieties in which rye is the secondary grain. Rye whiskeys are made with 51% rye instead of corn. Small batch and single barrel bourbons are available as well. Though small batches may not be all that small, by purchasing a single barrel whiskey, you can be sure that it came from one barrel batch. 00:08

  2. 2. Whiskey is one of the fastest growing spirit categories in the United States. As such, distillers are starting to produce it all across the country. There is a common misconception that bourbon must be made in Kentucky. Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey does have to be made in Kentucky, but other bourbon varieties can be produced anywhere in the United States. 01:51

  3. 3. "Angels’ share" refers to how much of the product that is lost during aging due to evaporation. Different climates contribute to varying amounts of angels’ share. Hot climates, or climates where temperatures vary drastically, will experience more angels’ share. Because of the angel’s share concept, aged bourbon whiskey is less common. 02:28

  4. 4. Scotch, unlike bourbon, is great for aging. Scotch is made from malted barley and is aged for three years and a day at the very minimum. Scotch must be made in Scotland. While scotch-style whiskeys are produced in Japan and the US, they cannot be called "scotch." Different regions in Scotland produce different types of Scotch. Scotland is divided into Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, Campbeltown, Islay. Islay is known for producing bold, smokey scotch, but smooth, mild varieties are available as well. 03:23

  5. 5. Julian recommends opening your mouth while smelling a whiskey. This allows the aroma of the spirit to permeate the senses. Try tasting as many varieties of scotch as possible so that you begin to learn your likes and dislikes. Visit a liquor store that specializes in whiskey, or that employs experts in whiskey varieties, as they may be able to steer you toward a product that you may enjoy more than those commonly known. 04:32

  6. 6. Some of Julian’s favorite scotch varieties include: Glenfarclas, a Speyside scotch whiskey, Cragganmore, Bruichladdish, an Islay single malt, and Highland Park’s 18 year. It is not necessarily true that the higher the age, the better the whiskey. Some whiskeys become over-oaked over time. Tasting whiskeys aged for different durations will help develop a sense of preference. 06:02

  7. 7. Some of Julian’s favorite bourbon varieties include: Pappy Van Winkle’s 20 year and Old Fitzgerald, both wheated bourbons, Willett rye, and Henry McKenna, a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey that is aged in a government facility for four years. 06:38

What You'll Need


- Bourbon whiskey
- Rye whiskey
- Scotch whiskey

Chef Notes

A mash bill is the proportion of grains that are used to make whiskey.

Whiskey became heavily regulated during prohibition, when bootleggers would create make-shift variations of whiskey, adding ingredients that do not belong. The regulations were aimed at preventing these bootlegged concoctions.

There are many different types of whiskey, including varieties that are made in Canada, Ireland, Japan, and Taiwan. Irish whiskeys are typically softer and easier to drink than Scottish whiskeys. Rye whiskey varieties are typically spicy, whereas bourbons are typically sweet.


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Taught by


Chef Julian Cox

Los Angeles

Julian Cox is an award-winning mixologist and the creative mastermind behind many of Los Angeles’ best cocktail programs, inc... read more