As letters go, ‘A’ is one of the better ones - certainly above average, I’d say...
For one thing, it’s right there at the front of the line w.r.t. all things alphabetical.
So, as soon as there’s anything new in this Whisky Lexicon, it will be here...
But that may take some time, because my first priority is the repair of some of
the other sections of MM. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for updates.

Whisky Lexicon - Aberfeldy to Aultmore

The Aberfeldy malt whisky distillery (est. 1896) is located in the Midlands.
The name of the Aberlour distillery is Gaelic for 'mouth of the babbling brook'.
The Abhainn Dearg distillery on Lewis is one of the first of the third millennium.
ABV is short for ‘Alcohol By Volume’: the spirit’s proof as percentage of volume.
Drinking too much whisky can cause acid reflux - the release of stomach acid.
The independent bottler Acorn Limited is based in Sakado city, Japan.
Alphabetically speaking, A.D. Rattray is a 'premier' independent bottler.
'Adelphi Distillery Ltd.' now owns a distillery, but they started out as a bottler.
The Adnams Copper House gin distillery in England now makes whisky.
Irish inventor Aeneas Coffey came up with the 'Coffey Still' around 1922.
After-shots is synonymous to feints or tails - the last of the run of a still.
An age statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky indicates years of maturation.
Ailsa Bay is part of the latest generation of distilleries, founded in 2007.

Gordon Wright started ‘The Alchemist’ after leaving Murray McDavid in 2005.
Alcohol is the ingredient that gives whisky most of its inspirational properties.
Much of a whisky’s flavour is derived from aldehydes (organic compounds).
Ale is a type of beer, which was traditionally made without hops.
An alambic or alembic is a basic type of still, already used in ancient Greece.
The name of Allt-A-Bhainne is needlessly complicated; their malt whisky isn’t.
A phrase which COULD mean a ‘Quercus alba’ oak cask - but not always...
Grains release the enzyme amylase during the malting process.
Confusingly enough, labels for Knockdhu malt whisky said ‘An Cnoc’ at times.
The Analyser is the first column of the column stills used for grain whisky.
While malt whisky is maturing inside the cask, part of the alcohol evaporates.
The company Angus Dundee owns the Glencadam and Tomintoul distilleries.
The Annandale distillery was opened on the 10th of September, 2015.
A practical and stylish piece of clothing, favoured by whisky nerds.
Latin phrase, meaning ‘water of life’ - later Gaelicised as “uisge beatha”.

The Arbikie distillery (est. 2014) is located on an estate (above Dundee).
The Ardbeg malt whisky distillery is located on the South shore of Islay.
The current Ardmore distillery in Speyside is actually the second by that name.
The Ardnamurchan distillery is the first distillery of the Adelphi Distillery Co.
Arran distillery was founded in the 1990s on the isle of Arran.
The Auchentoshan distillery in the Lowlands still uses triple distillation.
The name of the distillery is Auchroisk - but its whisky is sold as ‘Singleton’.
Aultmore was founded in 1896 during the ‘whisky boom’ of the 19th century.

ABV - Alcohol By Volume

Modestly experienced whisky drinkers may have wondered at one point why most whisky labels say 40%,
43% or even 46% in one of the bottom corners. This is the ABV or abv - short for ‘alcohol by volume’.
And that’s basically it - the alcohol (ethanol) contents of a bottle, expressed as a percentage of the volume.
Alcohol likes to distribute itself evenly in a bottle, so a glass poured from that bottle will have a similar ABV.

Whisky bottlers are able to deliver all their bottles at nice, round percentages like 40% or
43% by adding water - and in the past sometimes even the contents of leaky casks that
had dropped below the legally required minimum of 40% ABV during maturation.

Even casks that are not leaky lose an “angel’s share” of alcohol during the ageing.
The evaporation varies from cask to cask, but after a dozen years of maturation or
more, the ABV will usually have dropped to something between 50% and 60%.

Most casks are diluted down to standard values like 40% or 43% when bottled,
but some butts and casks are bottled at cask strength - either as ‘single casks’
or as part of a vatting. Cask strength whiskies used to be called ‘overproof’.
This comes from a simpler time when the strength of a whisky was expressed as
a certain ‘proof’ - for example 100 Proof. The main problem with this was the fact
that different countries used different systems. So, a whisky bottled at 80 Proof
in the UK (46%) would get you drunker than a bourbon at 80 USA Proof (40%).

It’s probably not very healthy to drink cask strength whisky on a daily basis,
but the big advantage of whiskies with an higher ABV is that you can add a
few drops of water in several different stages and at your own convenience.
Each new dilution will (after waiting a few seconds for a new equilibrium)
cause subtle changes in the bouquet and mouth feel of the whisky.

Please note that the minimum ABV of 40% only applies to Scotch whisky.
In 2016 the ‘Black Joker Mild’ was released in South Korea at a strength of 25%.
Other local brews include ‘Golden Blue’ at 36.5% and ‘Phantom The Original’ at a proof of 35%.

Age Statement (on a bottle of Scotch whisky)

The age statement on the label of a Scotch whisky bottle
indicates the number of years that the youngest whisky in
the vatting or blend has spent maturing in oak casks.

The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 are quite specific about
what whisky producers can and can’t put on their whisky labels
when it comes to the age statement. (If you’d like to read the
legal fine print, scroll down a little further for a sneak peak.)

These specific regulations put some restraints on the way the
Scotch whisky industry markets its product. It may have been
one of the reasons for the growing proliferation of so-called
‘NAS’ or No Age Statement bottlings in recent years.

Some Scotch malt whisky distilleries used to have a cheaper
‘NAS’ expression in the past at the entry level of their portfolio.
These could ease customers into the ‘regular’, more expensive
12yo, 15yo or 21yo bottlings. These days, older whiskies with
age statements are being replaced by younger ‘fancy’ whiskies.

Examples of this new generation of ‘barely legal’ malt whisky
are the Glenfissich ‘Rich Oak’ or the Macallan ‘Fine Oak’.

Scotch whisky regulations on age statements

Please note that a portfolio
based on age statements used
to be common with respect to the
official bottlings released by
the owners of a certain distillery.

Independent bottlers often use
a vintage - the year a whisky
was distilled. If you also know the
bottling year, you can calculate
the age of that particular whisky.

Distilleries own a lot of different
casks of their own whisky, so they
can blend or vat them together.

The law that required Scotch
whisky to be at least 3 years old
was passed in the year 1915.

By contrast, independent bottlers
often release single cask bottlings
with a specified bottling year.


Aldehydes are a group of organic compounds that are (among other things) responsible for the flavours
that you can find in a glass of whisky. The group of aldehydes is large and diverse though; it also includes
compounds like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde which are widely used in various industries. Another well
known member of the group is vanillin - a phenolic aldehyde with the formula C8H8O3.

Angel’s Share

The ‘Angel’s Share’ refers to the part of the alcohol that escapes a cask through the pores and cracks.
There is a lot of variation between different casks, but whisky can lose up to 2% ABV each year it matures
in its wooden shell. This is especially true for grain whiskies which are filled into casks at a higher proof
than malt whisky. I guess the Scottish angels remain thirsty, even after they’ve shaken off this mortal coil.
More details about the maturation of whisky can be found in chapter 5 of the Beginner’s Guide.

Acorn Limited

The Japanese indepedent bottler Acorn Limited is located in Sakado city, Saitama, Japan.
Compared to many European independent bottlers they have released a limited number of bottlings.
Most (but not all) of their releases are single malt whiskies; series include ‘Acorn’s Natural Malt Selection’
and ‘Acorn Original’. The guy that selects the casks seems to have a preference for Islay malts.

Aqua Vitae

The latin phrase ‘Aqua Vitae’ literally means ‘water of life’.
The phrase was brought over to the British isles by the Romans who half-heartedly decided to invade but
then left again  a few centuries later before properly finishing the job. Nevertheless, some remnants of the
Roman culture and language survived the dark ages. Gradually ‘aqua vitae’ became ‘uisge beatha’, which
later evolved into ‘whisky’ and ‘whiskey’ in English. 


The analyser is the first column of a ‘column still’ - which produces grain whisky from various grains.
(The second column is the rectifier.)  Within the analyser a fermented wash (5-10% alcohol) descends
through various levels while hot steam is rising at the same time. The steam is slowly enriched with alcohol.
Temperatures are lower at the levels higher up in the column, so that’s where the alcoholic vapours are
turned into a liquid. Mind you, this liquid doesn’t have quite the same qualities as malt whisky.

Alchemist, The

Gordon Wright was one of the creators of Murray McDavid (together with Mark Reynier) and as such he
helped resurrect the Bruichladdich distillery. In 2005 Gordon decided to leave Murray McDavid, but that
didn’t mean the end of his whisky adventures. He started The Alchemist - a new independent bottler.
They seem not as prolific on Dutch shelves as Murray McDavid, but that may be different elsewhere.

Do you know of an ‘A’ word, phrase or whisky brand I’ve missed?  Be a sport and let me know...
You can reach me through e-mail, Twitter or Facebook to help me make the Malt Madness site (a little) better.

Acid Reflux

Drinking too much whisky can cause acid reflux - which is not unlike a gentler version of vomiting.
Both are unpleasant, but while ‘having a nice barf’ releases most of the stomach’s contents, acid reflux
usually only involves a little stomach acid welling up through your oesophagus.

Aeneas Coffey

Irish inventor Aeneas Coffey was born in 1780 and educated at Trinity College in Dublin.
He started his career in the excise service around 1800 as a gauger. He remained a government emplyee
until 1824, at which point he started dabbling in inventions. He patented his ‘Coffey Still’ in 1930 and most
continuous stills that have been constructed since than have been based on his designs.


Ale is a type of beer - pilsner, lager and stout are others. In the past, ale traditionally was a ‘small beer’.
These beers didn’t contain a lot of alcohol and were often consumed at meal time. Ale is brewed using
warm fermentation, which produces a relatively fruity brew. Traditionally no ‘bittering agent’ was used,
but after the middle ages the addition of ‘gruit’ became common - and more recently hops.


The word ‘alambic’ or ‘alembic’ has Arabic origins. In the strictest sense of the word it is an ‘alchemical’
type of still that has been used for the distillation of chemicals for at least 2000 years. These days, the
name is also used for the crude mobile stills that are used to distill fruit spirits on many orchards in Europe.


Amylase is the enzyme that acts as a catalyst in the conversion of starch into sugar. It is present in the
saliva of humans and some other mammals and ‘malting’ also releases the enzyme in some grains.

Distillery Data Overview - a list of active (and recently closed) malt and grain whisky distilleries in Scotland.
Whisky Industry Ownership - all active Scotch malt whisky distilleries and the companies that own them.
Scotch whisky Brands - the whisky world is a confusing blend of distillers, bottlers and brands.

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