Category Archives: News

Scouting out whiskey news from around the world.

Whiskey and Your Health

It’s always a good thing to know what you’re putting into your body. Here at, we can help.

The caloric content of whiskey is almost exclusively a result of the alcohol content, and it comes out to 7 calories per gram. Once you know the proof, you can estimate the calories in your drink. This does not include any mixers or chasers, however. That whiskey sour has a few more calories in it. Just sayin’.

Proof Calories
1 oz
(30 ml)
1 shot
1.5 oz (44 ml)
70 Proof 56 85
80 Proof 64 97
86 Proof 70 105
90 Proof 73 110
94 Proof 76 116
100 Proof 82 124

Keep in mind that other than bourbon, whiskies may add colorings that have the potential to add a few calories. All bets are off with flavored whiskies.

Whiskey does not contain carbs.

Does whiskey contain gluten? Well that depends on why you’re asking.

If you don’t eat gluten because you have a sensitivity to gluten, then you’re fine to enjoy a glass of whiskey. According to the Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign, “a cocktail made with a distilled spirit is safe.”


The Canadian Celiac Association backs this up, saying, Rye whisky, scotch whisky, gin, and vodka are distilled from a mash of fermented grains. Rum is distilled from sugar cane. Brandy is distilled from wine and bourbon is distilled from a grain mash including corn. Since the distillation process does not allow proteins to enter the final product, distilled alcohols are gluten free.

For those whom gluten posses a severe health risk, however, it is advisable to go slow, if at all, when trying whiskey. Different distillers use differing distillation techniques which may vary the purity of the final product. In addition there is a high danger of cross-contamination, so even if the final product is gluten free, what winds up in the bottle may not be. Many celiacs have reported symptoms with even the most theoretically gluten-free spirit.

As with all things relating to your health, go slow, go careful, and always err on the side of caution. Some with gluten allergies have reported no issues with a glass of bourbon, while others have reported rapid intoxication and severe hangovers from even slight amounts. Click here for more information about gluten and whiskey.

Rod of AsclepiusHealth benefits from whiskey? This has to be a joke, right? A page torn straight from the “Too Good To Be True” playbook. Well read on, O Ye Disbelieving Heathens, and be enlightened!

When taken in moderation (about two drinks for guys, one for the ladies) alcohol can bestow upon its imbibers these benefits:

Reduced risk of heart disease
Reduced risk of ischemic stroke
Reduced risk of diabetes
Reduced risk of dementia
Reduced risk of gallstones

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Medical Daily, LiveStrong, Organic Facts

Who Makes the Rules?

When talking about whiskey, inevitably the conversation will turn to the rules for bourbon or the rules for Scotch. But who makes these rules? How are these rules enforced?

Simply put, the rules for such things as bourbon and Scotch are codified into law by individual countries. For instance, the US has a set of laws on what can bear the label “bourbon.” If the bottle in question does not meet those rules, it cannot be sold in the United States and call itself bourbon.

Does this mean someone in India can put a mystery liquid in a bottle and sell it as bourbon? Well, yes. Maybe. They certainly could not export it to the US and still call it bourbon.

SWA LogoSimilarly, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has a set of rules for what qualifies as Scotch. So can someone in Kentucky slap the word Scotch on a bottle and sell it? No. But why do the rules set up by the SWA mean anything to the United States? The key is trade agreements.

When signing international trade agreements, a fair amount of quid pro quo goes on. What this means is that when the US signs a trade agreement with say, the EU, they both agree to protect the product Trade Agreementcategories defined by individual countries. This means that the US gets to decide what “bourbon” is (and that it must come from the US) and the Scots get to decide what “Scotch” is (and that it must come from Scotland, of course!). There is actually a very complicated list of regionally restricted categories covering every conceivable type of alcohol embedded in these trade agreements.

Any country becoming a signatory to one of these trade agreements binds themselves to abide by these regional restrictions. Our enterprising distiller in Kentucky would not be allowed to sell his “Scotch” anywhere. Which is why Japanese single malts that taste indistinguishable from Scotch single malts will never be called Scotch. They are just Japanese single malts, though many bars will list them under Scotches. For shame!

Here are “The Rules” in their official form:

Bourbon / other American

Scotch (SWA) / The scotch Whisky Regulations 2009



Many other types do not have specific rules other than they must be from the indicated location.

Whiskey Flavor Map

The wonderful folks over at Glenfiddich pass out a flavor map during their tastings as one way to help organize the wide world of whiskeys. It’s nice they include some of their own expressions along with other recognizable expressions. Enjoy!

Glenfiddich Tasting Map


ad2Last chance for early bird deals on WhiskyFest San Francisco or New York. Save $25 off the regular admission if you order today!

San Francisco convenes October 3, with a general admission price of $200 ($175 early bird).

New York meets October 29, with pricing set at $245 for general admission ($220 early bird) and $295 for VIP ($270 early bird).

VIP tickets already sold out for San Francisco, but they are still available for New York. VIP ticket holders get an upgraded tote bag and get to walk the convention floor one hour before the general attendees, most likely sampling the rare and limited quantity drams before they are all gone.

Speaking of sampling, there will be around 300 whiskeys for you to sample, or at least choose from over 300. You might need to pace yourself! Meet distillers and other experts on the floor or in a free seminar. All attendees receive a free Glencairn tasting glass.

Room deals are available on the WhiskyFest website.

The Myth of Flavor Zones

Even science books lie sometimes

It’s always a blow to our trust in humanity when we learn we’ve been lied to our whole lives.  Even more so when it was by the very people we trusted to shape our hearts and minds, and tongues. The idea of the flavor map of the tongue is total bunk. A quick internet search will produce gobs (a highly scientific unit of quantity) of results, but here’s one from Live Science to get you started.

Since taste is obviously an important part of our enjoyment of whiskey, it’s a good thing to have at least a cursory understanding of how we perceive taste. The basics are simple, the tongue can perceive all tastes across the tongue. There are some variations, but these are more linked to differences between individuals rather than any intrinsic tongue topology.

This misconception was propagated by a poorly understood work written in 1901 by German D. P. Hanig. The graphic we all recognize was an attempt by others to generalize his research that did show slight variations. The problem was that those variations are not so well-defined, nor are they exclusionary, nor are they significant. The first cracks in universal belief in the map came in 1974 in a paper written for Perceptions & Psychophysics by Virginia Collings, which basically says the above backed with a whole lotta numbers. After this paper came out, more and more people started to look at this more critically, and we arrive today where no one supports the flavor map idea.

The problems with the flavor map are legion. First, the traditional map doesn’t even include all the flavors we are capable of detecting. That makes any map of the “four” flavors woefully inaccurate, even if the idea of zones was valid. It leaves out “umami,” a Japanese word that translates loosely as “tastes like chicken.” More or less. OK, it’s a meaty, protein flavor. Another problem lies in the fact that we have taste buds all around our mouth, not just on the tongue. So once again, the tidy graphic shoved down our throats (sorry, couldn’t resist!) would be wrong even if the basic concept were true, which it’s not.

Just be aware that anyone telling you their product “directs the spirit onto the tip of the tongue, where sweetness is perceived,” is spouting total marketing BS. One of the biggest perpetrators of this is specialty glass manufacturer, Riedel! It’s a shame that even Maker’s Mark touts the flavor map in their mobile app. Let’s get it together, people!

For further reading:
New York Times article
US National Library of Medicine article
Aroma article