The Wonderful Whiskey Quiz

FOOD & DRINK

Nathan Chandler

4 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Just as with beer, the world of whiskey has fractured into many niches and flavors, from bourbon to Scotch. How much do you know about whiskey?

What usually determines whether this spirit is spelled "whiskey" or "whisky"?

It depends on the country. In some countries, like Ireland and America, the 'e' is prevalent. In other places, such as Canada and Japan, the 'e' is typically omitted. For consistency's sake, we'll use "whiskey" for this quiz.

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What's the minimum aging time for bourbon?

There is no specific minimum aging period for bourbon, and some are sold just a few months after being pumped into a cask. Many bourbons are aged for a least a couple of years.

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Wheat whiskeys are one of the most common whiskeys in North America.

Wheat whiskey is very much a niche product. There are many whiskeys that use wheat as an ingredient, but few that use more than 50 percent wheat, which is the requirement for calling the spirit a wheat whiskey.

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According to U.S. guidelines, what's the maximum alcohol content when bourbon is first poured into a barrel for the aging process?

When the bourbon is introduced into a barrel for aging, its alcohol content can't exceed 62.5 percent. This rule was introduced in part to ensure the consistency and quality of the finished product.

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A Scotch whiskey must be aged in oak casks for a minimum of how many years?

A Scotch whiskey has a minimum age of at least three years. And in order to be legally called Scotch whiskey, it must be made in Scotland.

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The earliest European whiskey was primarily created by which sector of the population?

Monks, who clearly had extra time on their hands, learned to craft some of the earliest forms of whiskey. It wasn't meant as a beverage at first -- instead, it was mostly used for medicinal purposes.

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Rye is made mostly on which continent?

Rye is mostly made in the U.S., and American rules specify that it must contain at least 51 percent rye, unlike some other countries. Rye is often considered spicier than bourbon, which has sweet notes.

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How do "wheated" bourbons differ from bourbons that use rye?

Rye is a spicy grain that adds a lot of flavor to whiskeys, even when it is used in small quantities. Wheat, on the other hand, lends a milder flavor than rye.

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What's the minimum aging process for straight bourbon?

To be called straight bourbon, the product must be aged for at least two years. It also must be free of additives such as colorants or flavoring.

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Rye (the grain) is closely related to which other grain?

Rye is a type of grass that's closely related to barley. Canadian rye whiskey is unique in that it may not include any rye at all in the production process, something that isn't allowable in the U.S.

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If a whiskey is made in Northern Ireland, it can legally be called Irish whiskey.

Irish whiskey can be made anywhere in the Republic of Ireland. It can also come from Northern Ireland.

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In the early stages of the creation process, whiskey is essentially a type of what?

The early stages of the whiskey process are a lot like the beer brewing process. A type of grain is dried and then hot water and yeast are added in order to begin fermentation.

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What's one advantage of blended Scotch whiskey over single malt Scotch whiskey?

Blended Scotch combines several (or many) single malt Scotch whiskeys to round out the flavor profile and create smoothness. Although single malt versions have gained market share in recent decades, blended Scotch is still more popular than single malt Scotch.

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Most whiskeys have what minimum alcohol content?

Most whiskeys are at least 40 percent alcohol by volume. However, there are plenty of whiskeys on the market that approach double that potency.

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Scotch is usually distilled in containers made from what material?

Copper stills are most often used to distil Scotch. The interaction between the copper and the beverage is one major factor that adds flavor to the drink.

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A blended Scotch whiskey is made by combining Scotch with what other spirit?

A blended Scotch whiskey is made by combining single malt Scotch with a single grain whiskey. A blended malt Scotch whiskey, on the other hand, blends two or more different single malt Scotch whiskeys.

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What does it mean to drink whiskey "neat"?

If you drink whiskey "neat," it's just whiskey in a glass -- this is common for Scotch. Often, serious whiskey fans will add a few drops of water to help open up the flavors of the drink.

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Before Prohibition, what was the most popular style of whiskey in the United States?

Before Prohibition sent distilleries and drinking underground, Irish whiskey was the king of whiskeys in America. The onset of Prohibition (as well as political violence in Ireland) caused Irish whiskey production to plummet.

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What is NOT an ingredient in a single malt Scotch whiskey?

It might have peat overtones, but real Scotch has just three basic ingredients: water, malted barley and yeast. Depending on the region and distillation process, one Scotch can taste totally different from another.

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Single malt Scotch is generally more expensive than blended Scotch.

Single malt Scotch is less popular overall … but those who enjoy it pay a higher price. Single malt Scotch that's been aged for more than 10 years can fetch a hefty price.

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Bourbon whiskey is made from at least 51 percent of which ingredient?

Bourbon is made from mash that's made up of at least 51 percent corn.

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How is corn whiskey different from bourbon?

Bourbon has to be made from mash that's at least 51 percent corn. For corn whiskey, that percentage increases to 80 percent. Corn whiskey also typically has very little aging … and a much higher alcohol content.

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All single malt Scotch whiskeys have a smoky flavor.

Many single malt Scotch whiskeys have a smoky flavor because the malted barley is dried over a peat fire. However, many single malts have very little (if any) smoky taste.

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In which country did bourbon originate?

Bourbon's history is a little vague, but it was refined in America starting in the 1700s. It's especially associated with the American South, in areas like Kentucky.

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How does Canadian blended whiskey usually taste compared to other whiskeys?

Canadian blended whiskey combines multiple grain liquors, and the resulting product is typically very smooth. Some companies add rye to give these blends a little more flavor punch.

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Which type of whiskey is most likely to come from a single pot still?

Irish whiskey has a reputation of being made from a single pot still. Generally both malted and unmalted barley are combined for a distinct flavor.

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Tennessee whiskey is essentially what?

In essence, Tennessee whiskey is bourbon. The difference is that Tennessee whiskey adds charcoal filtering as part of the post-distillation phase.

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Corn whiskey is usually aged about how long?

Corn whiskey is typically aged less than half a year. The aging is just enough to take the edge off of the very high alcohol content.

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In order to qualify for the bourbon label, the drink must be made entirely within the United States.

A 1964 resolution passed by Congress specified that bourbon must be made within the borders of the U.S. As with Scotch, the regulations have been very beneficial to marketing and popularity of this whiskey.

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Bourbons must have a corn content of at least 51 percent. In reality, what percentage is usually corn?

Bourbon makers are only required to use a 51 percent corn blend for their liquor, but in most cases, corn actually makes up about 70 to 80 percent of the grains included in a bourbon.

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