All whisky is categorized by Material and Blending.
Additionally another world whiskies (Scotch, Irish, Bourbon/American and Canadian) is defined by strict PDO (protected designation of origin) which has specific requirement about not only above 2 points (material and blending) but also process, process location and aging.
Malt whisky is made from only malt without any other grains.
Grain whisky use not only grain but also malt because mashing grain require enzyme which malt contains. (Other grain doesn't have enzyme) Grain means non-malted barley, corn, wheat and oat.
Blended whisky is blended of malt whisky and grain whisky which were aged in different barrel. But blended in American whisky is different meaning.
Some rice whisky distilleries claim that rice is also grain but it should be categorized differently. Because most of them are 100% rice and mashing is done by Koji instead of malt enzyme.
Except for single cask bottle and cask strength bottle, almost all whisky bottle are blended of several different cask whisky.
Single malt and Single grain are made from several cask whisky distilled by same distillery.
There are some variation by material and blending.
Aging Category and description
Aged years description on bottle label
Years described on bottle label is youngest material whiskies. So Yamazaki 18 years contains only 18 years aging material whisky or older one.
Minimum year requirement of each TGI whisky
Each TGI regulation(Like scotch, bourbon and etc) also requires minimum aging years.
Shorter than TGI requirement
Bottled with shorter time aging than TGI requirement is called "New Born".
Bottled just after distillation without aging is called "New Make" or "New Pot".
World whisky category
There are 5 world whiskies including Japanese. The others are Scotch, Irish, Canadian and American including Bourbon. These 4 whiskies have strict PDO (protected geographical indication) regulation.
Whisky making process
Whisky making process
Whisky making process is mainly following 6 steps.
1) Material milling
Any grain material(Malt, Barley, Corn, Rye, Wheat and etc) for whisky is milled before mashing.
Material is biggest difference between Malt whisky and grain whisky. Malt whisky use only malt and grain whisky use not only malt but also other grains.
All grain is put in hot water to convert starch in grain to sugar by enzyme. Enzyme is normally come from Malt.
This sugar rich liquid is called "Mash" and tank used for mashing is called "Mash tun".
Most of mash tun is made by stainless but some made by wood.
Sugar in mash is converted to alcohol by adding yeast. Normally Fermentation takes more than 48 hours although mashing takes 6-8 hours. So number of fermentation tank is usually 3-4 times of mashtan.
Fermentation tank is also made by stainless or wood.
Distillation makes high alcohol from mash due to boiling point difference between alcohol and water. High alcohol spirits made by distillation is called "New make"
There are 2 type distillation facilities (Pot still and Column still). Malt whisky is made by pot still grain whisky is normally made by column still.
5) Cask Aging (Matuared)
High alcohol spirits is put in Cask. Cask type give different taste and flavor to whisky. Several cask are used for whisky aging but most major cask is used bourbon cask.
There are several whisky labeling ??? cask finish. It means that 2nd aging in different cask after 1st aging.
Whisky is bottled after several years aging in cask. Bottled one just after distillation without aging is called "New Pot" or "New Make". Bottled one before regulated years aging in cask is called "New Born"
Except for single cask, bottle whisky contains material whisky from several casks.
Process difference between Malt whisky and Grain whisky
Material, Enzyme and Distillation pot are main different process points between Malt whisky and Grain whisky
Malt whisky : Only Malt.
Grain whisky : Malt & other grains
Malt whisky : 2-raw barley Malt.
Grain whisky : 6-raw barley Malt
Malt whisky : Pot still
Grain whisky : Column still