In its most simple form, it is a strong sprit distilled from grains then matured in a oak cask for a number of years.
Before being bottled the basic ingredients going into whisky are grain, water and yeast, but this only gives us a small snippet of the bigger picture.
You have to dive deeper into the country of origin and the style of whisky to get the whole picture. Whisky is made all around the world, the top 5 producers are Scotland, United States of America, Ireland, Japan and Canada.
The worlds largest whisky producer Scotland is selling three times its nearest rival Country.
The grains used to make whisky are normally barley, corn, rye and wheat, almost any grains can be used with some distilleries experimenting with them over the years but only as a limited edition or small batch.
The water is where the whisky starts, many distilleries still around today are located next to a pure water sources such as a river or sometimes a borehole giving them access to the vast amount of water they require for the whisky making process. From the very beginning of the process, the barley is steeped in water first to encourage germination and later in the mash tun the malted barley is mixed with hot water to create the wort. Distilleries also use water to dilute the spirit to the desired alcohol level before it is bottled.
The yeast depending who you ask does or does not make a difference to the profile of the new make spirit, the American and Japanese distilleries think that it’s something that can make a difference but the Scottish and Irish tend to take the opposite opinion, with the Canadians sitting in the middle.
Whisky only contains three ingredients but has a world of different flavour profiles depending on the type of grain, the mixture of different grains the cask type the age of the time the whisky is in the cask