Whisky Lingo


ABV is the abbreviation for Alcohol by Volume. ABV is the alcohol strength of the whisky measured as a percentage in relation to the liquid as a whole. 40% ABV is equal to 40% alcohol and 60% water. By law Scotch Whisky must be a minimum of 40% ABV.


The age stated on a label or carton of a bottle of whisky refers to the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle.


The age stated on a label or carton of a bottle of whisky refers to the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle.

Alfred Barnard

As secretary of Harper's Weekly Gazette, he visited every working whisky distillery in Great Britain and Ireland from 1885-1887. In all, he visited an incredible 162 distilleries; 129 in Scotland, 29 in Ireland and 4 in England. The result of which was the monumental 500 page The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, covering in-depth technical information on the distilleries, along with sketches and engravings.


There are several amylases types, primarily α- and β- amylases which are able to convert starch into fermentable substrates. The main form, α- amylases, is heat stable to up to 70°C but activity declines at temperatures above 67°C. Less heat stable is the β- amylases which is denaturised at normal mashing temperatures and disappears in less than 60 minutes at temperatures above 64°C. These facts underline the importance of water temperatures during the mashing process to extract the maximum amount of sugar. See also “Mashing”

Angel’s share

The alcohol that is lost due to evaporation during maturation in the cask. This can be around 2% per year. See also “Ullage”

American Oak

American white oak is a type of hardwood and is seen as a perfect type of wood for the construction of whisky casks. The trees grow fast with usually tall straight trunks. This type of wood is used to produce American Standard Barrels (ASB) with a capacity of 200 litres. American white oak contributes mainly vanilla, toffee, butterscotch, coconut, spices and nutty flavours to the whisky. American white oak staves tend to have come from the Bourbon industry and will often have been charred rather than toasted. 1920s and 30s the coopering industry had collapsed so this new law gave the coopering industry a boost. The industry recovered quickly after prohibition and there was a massive increase of casks available. The Scots and Irish began using American oak casks for maturation due to the good availability and the good price of the casks compared to more traditional casks from Europe.