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Sharon Lynn Asks Do You Prefer Whisky or Whiskey?

Sharon Lynn is the author of multiple short stories. You can find out more about her here, see the anthologies featuring her work here, and read her last post here.

Wine gets a lot of attention, both in fiction and life. Who doesn’t like a nice glass of Chardonnay while staring at the fire? 

But have you considered whisky lately? I’m thinking of starting a cozy series in the world of my short story Carne Diem. The characters would focus on cocktails instead of wine, and the Main Character would be an expert on whisky. So, naturally, I’ve been doing some research. A four-day tour in Scotland taught me a lot. We started in Edinburgh, went to Oban, and took a ferry to Islay. The island has 3000 people and nine distilleries. It is just one of the single malt production areas in Scotland. Ten distilleries (all those on Islay plus Oban), each serving five or six tastings, and you start to feel like an expert. 

Single malt whisky is a relatively new spirit outside of Scotland, where it has been made in small batches since the 1800s. Initially, single malt was made exclusively for blended scotch. 

In 1963, Glenfiddich decided that single malt needed to be introduced to the world. It took over two decades to get the unique, smoky, spicy, rich flavor to catch on. During the 1980s, single malt finally took off, going from less than thirty varieties to over 100. Today over fifty new malts come on the market every year. 

There are arguments over whether to add water to the tasting. In a Scottish pub, it’s a hot enough subject to start a brawl. According to the makers, adding a drop of water to a dram of whisky allows the flavors to bloom. You can even add an equal amount of water to whisky and not lose flavor. 

Most single malt is aged in oak bourbon barrels from the United States (bourbon barrels, by law, can only be used once in the US) or sherry barrels from France. The flavor differences add either spice and fruity notes. The scents come through after a nice swirl, just like with wine. At first, all I smelled was smoke, but after the tour, I could identify everything from pepper to banana. 

Fun Fact: the spelling “whiskey” with an e is primarily used in countries that have an e, like the United States or Ireland. “Whisky” tends to be used in countries that don’t have an e like Scotland or Japan. 

However, you spell it, grab your Glencairn glass and have a dram!

Sharon Lynn

Sharon Lynn’s mystery short stories, Final Curtain (2020) and Death on Tap (2017) are published in anthologies by Malice Domestic and Sisters in Crime’s Desert Sleuths. You can find out more about her on her website, sharonlwrites.com, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Sheila Lowe

    Being a real lightweight (I drink an occasional glass of White Zinfandel–not even considered wine by the snobs), I find whisky daunting. In movies, you always see the newbie choking on it. The closest I’ve come was when I was hired to analyze handwriting at an event for the Golden Globes, sponsored by one of the by whisky producers. But I was working, so…

  2. Sharon Lynn

    I am totally a lightweight, too. We were given drams but I would only take the tiniest sip and leave most of it in the Glencairn, So then the tour guides invariably would give me a driver’s box of little vials that I could pour each taster into to take home. We had about 45 of these vials by the time we finished our tour.
    Still, I enjoyed learning about the different flavors and could appreciate the scents. The tour is worth it just for the scenery – it’s really hard to get to the island without a knowledgable guide.

  3. Sherrill Joseph

    I enjoyed a wee dram by Loch Ness a few years back. The pub owner said the more you drink, the more likely you’d be to see Nessie. Being a lightweight, I didn’t come close to spotting her!

    1. Sharon Lynn

      Hi Sherrill! My comment post below (user error on my part).

  4. Laurie Buchanan

    When we walked across Scotland (211 miles along the Caledonian Canal from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean), we stopped now and again and tasted the whisky. Enjoyable no matter how you slice it.

    1. Sharon Lynn

      The walk sounds amazing! We did a walking tour of the lower Cotswolds, from Painswick to Bath. What an amazing way to see the country! We also did a canal walk 1 day turn around from Bath to Bradford. That leg was my favorite because there was a cafe 5 miles along the way with the best ploughman’s plate I’ve ever seen!

  5. Sharon Lynn

    Our next trip will definitely be to Loch Ness! I fear I will never have enough whisky to see Nessie .

  6. Tracey Phillips

    Great post Sharon! I occasionally think I’d like to drink whiskey over wine, but as soon as the pungent odor hits my nose, it’s a no- go. Oh well. I’ll leave it for the connoisseurs. Lol.

  7. Very interesting post, Sharon! I’d love to be able to love whiskey, but I’m like Tracey…it just isn’t in my DNA, although Scotland is, I’m happy to say! I really enjoyed your post!

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