Every label has a story to tell, but the basic rules remain the same.
Let’s talk about a Single Malt Scotch Whisky Label.
Single Malt Scotch Whisky is made exclusively from malted barley and is produced by a single distillery. Therefore, the name of the distillery is always stated on the label. The term ‘blended malt’ indicates a malt whisky that contains several malt whiskies from different distilleries.
Region: The region may be added before the phrase “single malt Scotch whisky”. The classic regions are Highland, Speyside, Lowlands, Islay and Campbeltown. Following the new 2009 legislation, also other regions may be stated now, for example Orkney or Arran.
Age: The age statement on the label indicates the youngest whisky used for this bottling. Single malt whisky may also contain whiskies of different ages, but they are all from a single distillery. The rule of thumb is: the older the whisky, the mellower and better it is, since pungent aromas degrade during maturation. But the time needed for maturation also depends on the size of the casks. A whisky that matured in small casks for 12 years is usually mellower than a whisky that matured in very large casks for 18 years. So age shouldn’t be the only criterion when you choose a whisky.
Alcohol content: The better a whisky gets, the higher its alcohol content is usually, because the philosophy of the producers is to give the customer a bit more of the product if the bottle is expensive. But beware! Most whiskies taste better if you add a little water. This has nothing to do with adulteration or watering-down. Whisky with a higher alcohol content usually lasts longer than whisky that has been reduced to drinking strength.