Have you watched Newsroom? On HBO? Or Sidereel, or Pirate Bay, or however all the kids over in Germany watch American TV before all their other countrymen can? If you aren’t, I highly suggest that you start. It’s really good. Here’s a clip that may or may not sell you on it:
Seriously. So good.
Both, actually. Newsroom AND Rudy.
Which brings me to my follow up, have you watched Rudy?
Oh my god, double seriously. Sooo good. It is actually the first movie that I remember crying to...and Bambi...and Platoon I think. Something about Forest Whitaker maybe? I need to go back and watch Platoon again.
Anyway Rudy. The story of the guy who is always the back up. He’s been friend-zoned by the entire Notre Dame football program and on the last game of his last year, he gets his wish, and finally gets to suit up. WAM. Right in the feels.
I’ll be perfectly honest, neither Newsroom or Rudy have anything to do with this weeks episode. Not even a little bit.
Ok, actually maybe there is a little something in common between the drink and Rudy. Rudy sat on the back burner for 4 seasons and just when he thought that all his efforts were wasted, and that hope was lost, that showing up and supporting the team every week had been fruitless, after all that, he was finally given a chance to shine. Ladies and gentleman, not unlike Rudy, this weeks TIP has been here since the beginning. It has supported the ISIS staff through heart ache and celebration, and finally, after being an alternate for week after week, it is being given it’s chance to shine. Everyone please stand, and welcome to the field:
There were once considered to be only four regions of whisky distilling, but the number and grouping of them has varied over time. (Oh, a quick side note on spelling. You may have noticed that sometimes whisky is spelled without an e, and sometimes with. That typically lets you know whether the person doing the writing is talking about Scotch or not, or is or is not Scottish themselves. Whiskey with an E is how Ireland and the U.S. usually spell it, whereas ‘Whisky’ is the typical spelling by the Scots and Britts. Now you know. Go forth and be semi-culturally accurate.) The original whisky regions were as follows:
There are considered to be at least 5, with a small footnote on a non-official 6th. The fifth region is Speyside, which once used to be considered a part of the highlands. Since Speyside is now home to over half of the total distilleries in Scotland, it has been given it’s own distinct regional status.
The sixth possible, but not official, region is the Islands. The islands are considered a part of the highland region, however, due to the geographically isolated nature of an island, each individual island has it’s own unique characteristics that are easily distinguishable from other islands and regions in Scotland. The island “region” consists of the isles of Lewis, Arran, Orkney, Jura, Skye, and Mull.
There is far too much information about Scotch to cover here, so this time around I want to focus a bit on definition, so that you know what the fuck it is you’re buying when you look at the label on a bottle. This has changed over time, so I’m going to give you the most recent conventions, that apply to newly sold Scotches.
- Scotch Whisky: A whisky distilled in Scotland using malted barley (which only other whole grains and cereals may potentially be added), aged in oak casks for at least 3 years, and bottled at a minimum strength of 40% alcohol. The only additives allowed are water and plain caramel colouring. (Look, I even used the UK spelling of colour!)
- Single Malt: When it comes to Scotches, this term tells you a lot. Number one, it tells you that the whisky is from a single distillery, and hasn’t been mixed with any other products. It also tells you that it is only made with malted barley. This isn’t always the case with other whiskies, as many grains can be used in Irish, American, Canadian, and various other nations products. Barley, rye, wheat, and corn are other potential grains that could be malted for whisky... but not single malt Scotch. It only uses barley. That’s it.
- “Single Cask”: A bit more rare and typically a bit more pricey. This means that not only is the product a single malt, but came from one single barrel and was not mixed with any other product (same batch or otherwise).
- Blended Whisky: This is where time frame is a factor. Prior to 2009, a product labeled ‘blended’, could be a mix of barley and other malted grains. This is no longer the case. The following two distinctions are now required on the label:
- “Blended Malt Scotch Whisky”: This means that the product is a blend of Single Malts, so it is still just made with barley, and no other product, but it is blended with single malts that have been distilled at various other locations in Scotland.
- “Vatted Malt”: This term is used interchangeably with “Blended Malt”
- “Blended Scotch Whisky”: Is the new term for Scotches that are blended with whiskies from a variety of grains. So if you see a Scotch bottle that doesn’t have the word malt anywhere on the label, then it contains more than just barley. That doesn’t make it inferior. Blends can be really good, it's just a more complex, carefully crafted flavor, that will likely not have the kind of regional distinction that single malts will have.
Those are the things you can always tell by looking at the bottle, a few things that you may not be able to tell is what region the Scotch comes from, as this is not required, but may sometimes be listed anyway. The age of the whisky. All Scotches are at least 3 years old, but when you have a blend, you may have several ages mixed together. If a year is listed on the bottle, that number indicates the age of the youngest whisky in the mix. So if you have an 8 year and a 4 year in your blended malt, then the label must say 4, not 8.
P.S. I'm super proud of how this episode turned out. I think it's one of the best looking episodes we've ever made. And it's really funny. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.