Scotch Whisky – What a First Timer Should Know

If you’ve ever wanted to get started learning and exploring the world of Scotch whisky, you may have found yourself more than a little overwhelmed by everything you need to know. Scotch whisky is a nuanced beverage, and it takes some time to truly understand all the ins and outs of drinking it. However, everyone has to start somewhere, and there’s no time like the present when you’re interested in getting started with a new alcoholic favorite. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything a beginner should know about enjoying Scotch whisky to its fullest.

A brief history
You may not ever have stopped to think about the history of Scotch whisky, where it came from, or how it became so widely associated with class and prestige, but the history of this drink is actually quite interesting. The earliest mention on record of Scotch whisky dates back to 1494, where it was referred to as “water of life.” This recorded mention leads scholars and historians to believe the whisky distillation process had already been created by this time, since it seems Scotch whisky was being produced in fairly large quantities in the 1400s.

Scotch whisky led a fairly normal existence up until the mid-1600s, when it was first taxed. This led to a widespread increase of illegal distilleries producing whisky and selling it for high prices under the table, so to speak. It wasn’t until 1823 that this taxation was somewhat removed, although it remained in place with lesser consequences and lighter laws after this time, as well. It was at this time that Scotch whisky became a little easier to come by and it really started to take off in its popularity around the world.

The worldwide phenomenon of Scotch whisky was finally sealed when, in 1880, French vineyards were almost entirely wiped out by an insect infestation. Scotch whisky was poised to take over and, for a long time, it remained the most popular alcoholic beverage on the market, until wine regained its footing some years later.

How to drink Scotch whisky
In order to understand how to drink Scotch whisky, you first must know how to order it. While there are many ways to express what you want when you go to a bar or lounge, the proper way to order Scotch is to ask for a dram. A dram specifically refers to an eighth of an ounce of Scotch whisky, but in most places today, it refers to an ounce instead. It can be more or less used to describe a glass of whisky, even though this was not the original meaning of the term.

You may have seen people in movies ordering Scotch “on the rocks.” This, of course, refers to having it with a couple of ice cubes in the glass, and it’s generally frowned upon by those who are very deeply involved in the world of Scotch whisky appreciation. However, if you’re new to drinking whisky, it’s definitely a good idea to order it with some ice cubes. This will help cut the flavor and will also cool down the drink. In short, it will be easier for you to enjoy it as you get used to the flavor and well-known “burn” that this type of whisky offers. Take note that, if you have the choice, using a ball of ice is a better option than a cube, as it won’t melt as fast.

The next step is to “nose” the Scotch. This means waving it gently in front of your nose and breathing in to smell the aromas of the drink. This can take some practice to get it right, but it’s crucial to truly enjoying the flavor of the whisky you’ll be drinking. You should do this a few times in order to prepare your taste buds for the experience to come.

Finally, take a sip and move it around your mouth before swallowing it. This will give your whole taste palate a chance to experience the drink and understand the complex flavors behind it. If you like it, then keep going!

How to buy Scotch whisky
Many people assume the most expensive bottle of whisky is the best. This might be true, but aged whisky (which generally runs the priciest) has a much bolder and stronger flavor that young whisky, and it’s likely to turn you off from drinking Scotch ever again. Because of this, you should stick to something a little more “mainstream” for your first few drams—and no one is going to look down on you for that.

You probably, however, don’t want to start with the cheapest bottle in the store either. Stick to something in the middle ground when it comes to prices, and you’ll be more likely to be pleased with he results. Go with Scotch whisky that doesn’t contain peat if possible. This will make the flavor much less harsh and will cut the burn of the whisky significantly without you ever having to put in any ice, if you don’t want to.

This type of Scotch is a great way to introduce yourself to this beverage without overdoing it on the flavor. Once you work through your first bottle, you’ll be much more capable of moving forward in your pursuit of the world of whisky, and you’ll be happier with the experience, too.

As you can see, there are a lot of things you need to keep in mind when you’re trying to determine how to begin enjoying Scotch whisky. This can be a fun and exciting way to expand your alcoholic preferences and horizons, but it can also be intimidating, especially since there is a whole culture of ordering and imbibing surrounding whisky. If you have a more experienced friend, don’t hesitate to ask for advice and for a buddy to go with you to the lounge for your first dram. If not, however, keep our tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to the best possible Scotch whisky experience in no time.

Health Benefits of Drinking Wine

If you’re into drinking wine, you’ve probably already heard a few rumors about just how good for you it really is. But how much of that is true? What are the real health benefits of drinking wine, and are there some you didn’t even know about? In this article, we’re going to help you learn everything you need to know about wine and your health. Remember that all of the health benefits listed here are for those who drink wine in moderation—too much of a good thing can lead to more health trouble in the long run. Always talk to your doctor before trying wine for health purposes.

  1. Wine can be good for your bones.
    Like beer, red wine contains silicon, which is something our bones need to stay strong and healthy. The more silicon you ingest, the denser your bones will become, which improves their health and strength over time too. A little bit of red wine every day is a sure way to help reduce your risk of osteoporosis, and it may even help you slow the progression of this disease if you’ve already been diagnosed with it. Don’t rely on wine alone, though—be sure to follow your doctor’s orders if you’re trying to prevent or treat bone issues.
  2. Wine can help your immune system.
    If you’re the type of person who has a naturally weak immune system, you might be able to help it out a little bit by drinking a half a glass of red wine a day. Consuming red wine in small amounts is a good way to give your body a vitamin boost that can help you ward off sickness, especially if you’re someone who catches just about everything. However, if you have a medical reason for your weakened immune system, you may need to stay away from wine instead. And remember that drinking too much can actually make you more prone to catching illnesses, so tread carefully.
  3. Wine contains antioxidants.
    These days, everyone is concerned with consuming foods that contain antioxidants—and we should be! Antioxidants can help your body fight off cancer and may prevent cancer altogether in some instances. If you’re concerned with keeping your body healthy overall, be sure to drink white wine. While red wine tends to be the best bet for a wide variety of other health benefits, white wine is the most antioxidant-packed of the varieties out there. All types of wine do contain some antioxidants, however, so you’re still doing good for your body by drinking reds if you prefer them.
  4. Wine reduces your risk of both heart attack and stroke.
    This is one of the benefits many people already know about wine, but it bears repeating anyway: wine is great for your heart and can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Red wine contains substances that prevent heart disease naturally by improving your blood flow as well as the condition of your blood vessels. And because of this, too, your body will be less likely to develop blood clots. Since blood clots lead to stroke, red wine will also help you prevent the risk of stroke overall. Just remember to drink a half a glass to a glass a day and don’t overdo it, or you may end up giving yourself more of a risk for these issues instead.
  5. Wine can help you reduce the risk of diabetes.
    If you’re already at risk for type 2 diabetes, you may be able to improve your chances at avoiding it by drinking a glass of wine every day. One of the substances found in wine—resveratrol, which we’ll discuss more in a later point—is known to help improve insulin sensitivity. Basically, this means your body will be able to make more insulin on its own and may not end up developing type 2 diabetes. Of course, you’ll need to pair this with other health improvements in your life for best results, but wine is sure to help out along the way.
  6. Wine can help lower your cholesterol.
    There are a lot of great, healthy foods out there that can help you naturally lower your cholesterol before it gets out of hand, and wine is one of them. Red wine is especially good for lowering cholesterol, so stick to the reds if you’re looking to improve this particular health issue. Wine can help you increase the good type of cholesterol in your body while at the same time cutting back on the bad type, so it’s a win-win for you. Just make sure you don’t overdo it, or you may negate those benefits quickly. A glass a day is plenty.
  7. Wine is good for your brain.
    If you’ve ever had too much wine at one time, chances are good you may be questioning this one. But the key here—as with all of these health benefits—is to not overdo it with your wine. Having a glass of wine a day will help your brain function better and stay healthier for longer, too. This is especially true of red wine, but all types of wine will help your brain at least a little bit. Some studies have shown that a glass of wine a day even helps slow or prevent diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. And if you’re worried about developing dementia as you age, you may be able to fight back against this concern by drinking wine every day, too.
  8. Wine can help you live longer.
    Wine contains many things that are very good for your body, and one of those things is a substance called resveratrol. Resveratrol works in your body to reduce signs of aging and, in general, make you look younger. When consumed, this substance makes your body produce a necessary protein that cuts back on physical signs of aging and also helps your body function better for longer, too. All in all, a glass of wine a day may be the key to long life and a youthful experience, too.

The Best Wine for Pairing with Pizza

Are you into drinking wine with every meal—even when that meal is pizza? If so, you may be interested to find out just what types of wine are best for different varieties of pizza. Below, we’ll list some of the most common and popular pizza toppings and combinations out there and give you an idea of which wines you might want to stock up on before making (or ordering) your favorite. Wow your friends and family at your next party by showing off your wine knowledge in an unexpected way!

  1. Plain Cheese Pizza
    You might not have ever even considered having a glass of wine with plain cheese pizza before, but you should give it a try—you’ll be surprised at just how nicely the two pair together. After all, wine has been being paired with cheese for centuries, so why not throw a few extra pizza ingredients into the mix with that pairing and see what happens? Pick up a plain cheese pizza and don’t forget to grab a nice Syrah or Shiraz to go with that. A Chianti might be a better option depending on the type of cheese you’re working with, too. Stick to wines with a medium body for best results, and don’t forget to try a glass of champagne with a plain cheese pizza sometimes too, especially if it’s a white pizza.
  2. Sausage Pizza
    Sausage comes in many different varieties, and depending on the type of sausage you’re using in your pizza, you may want to go with a couple of different wines. In the end, however, sausage is almost always a fatty and flavor-packed topping for pizzas that will require a bold wine to pair with it. Sausages often contain fennel, which tastes especially nice with bold red wines, and oregano, which goes well with any mild to intense wine options out there. For this reason, we recommend going with a Syrah in most sausage pizza situations. However, if your pizza also contains other types of meat, you might prefer to choose a Cabernet Sauvignon instead. Consider the toppings as a whole to make this decision.
  3. Pepperoni Pizza
    One of the most classic types of pizza out there, the pepperoni pizza goes great with a few different types of wine. Pepperoni has an overpowering flavor that may not go well with mild wines, and it’s greasy and generally the most noticeable part of any pizza it may be on. Because of all this, you should stay away from all but the strongest wines out there if you’re working with pepperoni on your pizza. A Cabernet Franc is a good choice for pepperoni-only pizza, but go with a Cabernet Sauvignon if there are other meat toppings on the pizza as well. You might also be able to get away with using a Shiraz for this type of pizza, but choose wisely if you go this route.
  4. Hawaiian Pizza
    With its unique combination of Canadian bacon and pineapple on a traditional cheese pizza, a Hawaiian pizza poses some challenges when it comes to picking the right wine. However, the savory flavors of the salty Canadian bacon and the sour taste of the pineapple are both nicely offset by a sweeter wine, so you can’t go wrong with a Riesling. You might not think it’s best to pair a Riesling with any type of meat, but it actually works very well with this particular combination of toppings. Best of all, it’s also fairly acidic, so it will make the pineapple really pop with every bite. If you’re not a fan of Riesling, you can always go with a sweet and juicy red wine, like a Zinfandel, to get a similar effect.
  5. Veggie Lovers Pizza
    The good old veggie lovers pizza is often topped with any number of vegetables ranging from common pizza finds (olives, mushrooms, tomatoes) to more unique options (broccoli florets, salad greens, carrots). You’ve got to look for a wine that will work with the types of vegetables you’ll be eating. If your veggie pizza contains salad greens, chances are you’re going to have a little bit of a tart or bitter flavor in every bite, so pick a wine that will work with this. A Sauvignon Blanc is a good call for a pizza with salad greens. A more traditional veggie pizza with mushrooms or olives needs a milder wine to balance out these strong flavors, so go with something like a Chardonnay instead.
  6. Chicken Pizza
    Picking the right type of wine to go with a chicken pizza is all about knowing what kind of chicken pizza you’re dealing with. If it’s a general grilled chicken pizza without a lot of other flavors going on, a white wine like a Pinot or even a good old-fashioned glass of champagne is a nice touch. However, if you’re pairing wine with a barbecue chicken pizza instead, you should stick to something that will go with the smoky flavors of barbecue without overpowering the chicken. Malbec is a good choice here, because it’s sweet enough to go nicely with barbecue sauce and mild enough that you will still be able to taste the chicken when you enjoy these two together.
  7. Tomato Basil Pizza
    Also sometimes known as Margherita pizza, this is very popular and common combination of fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, and juicy tomatoes. It’s a favorite among many, but it’s got a lot of flavors going on that may make it challenging to find the right wine to pair it with. There are many different fats in this type of pizza—from the variety of cheeses present—so you’re going to want to go with a lighter wine to help balance out the heavier flavors going on in the meal. For this reason, we recommend sticking with a rosé whenever possible. Not everyone is going to be a fan of this type of wine, but it is the perfect match for Margherita pizzas—especially when served for brunch!

History of American Bourbon

Whether you are a connoisseur of bourbon or you’re just interested in learning where different types of alcohol come from, you may want to read up on the history of this popular classic drink. American bourbon is not the same as bourbon from other places, and although it’s similar to many other drinks—and it is technically a type of whiskey—it also has enough differences to make it stand out as well. Below, we’ve put together a quick rundown of the history of American bourbon to give you a good idea of just how it came to be and what makes it so special.


History of American BourbonIn order to trace the history of American bourbon, it’s first important to go all the way back to the early days of the distillation process. Distillation can be traced officially back to the late 1400s when it was first mentioned in writing. However, it is actually much older than this, although we don’t have any official written records of when it was first used. This process is key to ensuring the proper production of bourbon as well as of other whiskeys and similar types of drinks, so it’s a crucial element in the history of American bourbon.

In Scotland, distillation was eventually heavily taxed, and laws were put in place for some time to limit the process significantly. When this happened, smugglers became prominent and were responsible for keeping the process alive throughout the country as well as introducing it to other nations. Eventually, the laws and taxes were altered and the situation improved such that distilleries were able to operate legally within Scotland once again. This led to the widespread acceptance of distilling throughout the country.

In the 1800s, French vineyards suffered from an infestation of a certain type of beetle that nearly wiped them all out completely. When this happened, wine and brandy supplies around the world dwindled, and those who made whiskey saw the opportunity to take over instead. This was when the distillation process, and particularly Scotch whiskey, became as well-known as it is today. This is also when whiskey traveled to other countries and was brought to the United States—namely, the area of the United States that would eventually be known as Kentucky.

In its early years, Kentucky was home to Scots-Irish, Welsh, German, and English settlers who brought the concept of distillation with them. We understand today that this is how distillation came to the area, but there are many different stories that lay claim to the introduction of actual whiskey to Kentucky—and to the origin of American bourbon. There is no way to tell which of these stories is really true, but they all have some merit, and so it’s a good idea to examine each one in an exploration of the history of American bourbon.

Many people believe that American bourbon (and specifically Kentucky bourbon) was invented by a pastor named Elijah Craig who lived in Kentucky long ago. Supposedly, he was the first person to come up with the idea of storing bourbon in charred barrels to give it its unique and specific flavor as well as the coppery color for which it is known so well. However, there is a great deal of proof that charring the barrels used for bourbon (and whiskey) was a common practice in Europe well before this time, so there’s some dispute as to whether or not there’s much truth behind this story.

Another popular story is the one of Jacob Spears, who supposedly distilled whiskey and first labeled it as “bourbon.” As the story goes, he named his drink “bourbon whiskey” because he was a resident of Bourbon County, Kentucky. However, there is once again a flaw to this story: bourbon was already being produced in large quantities by the time it was supposedly named, so chances are very good that it earned its name long before the time of Jacob Spears. Some historians believe, instead, that it was named after Bourbon Street, where it was shipped and sold. It may also have been named for Old Bourbon, a region that included a small portion of Virginia and most of Eastern Kentucky as we know it today.

When Prohibition hit the United States, distilleries stopped legally operating. Although a very few distilleries were allowed to keep producing whiskey during this time for medicinal purposes, they were not legally allowed to sell it for any other reason. The bourbon industry almost died off completely during Prohibition, but distilleries opened up once again afterward and started producing the drink once more.

Although bourbon production was popularized in and continues to be largely associated with Kentucky, Tennessee whiskey is a close runner-up. This type of whiskey is, obviously, produced in Tennessee instead of in Kentucky, but other than that it is relatively the same thing. Even for the purposes of trade and sales, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States does not recognize these two drinks as separate entities. The distinction is really only significant to those who have a preference for one or the other—and particularly to those who live in either Tennessee or Kentucky.

In 1964, the United States declared that the bourbon variation of whiskey was officially a product unique to the United States and separate from other types of whiskey. Because of this, the United States government recognizes the only whiskey produced in the US as bourbon whiskey for the purpose of regulations. Since this change, not much more has happened in the world of bourbon, although its popularity continues to rise. This is a drink that has withstood the test of time and continues to be used in exciting, new ways. It’s an excellent addition to your home bar, and it’s also a nice way to add a lot of flavor to baking and cooking.

All in all, American bourbon has been around for a long time and is still being made in much the same way it was centuries ago. This classic potable has many flavor variations today to help everyone find the type they’re sure to enjoy.