Whisky is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Grain mash includes barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, buckwheat and corn. Whisky is typically aged in wooden casks, generally made of oak. Whisky is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many classes and types. The unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation, and aging in wooden barrels.


Whisky or Whiskey is one of the world’s most popular spirits, with many countries and cultures imparting their own twists on its creation. Whisky is extremely versatile in both taste and application, being used in a variety of culinary dishes to add a unique flavour profile and often featuring in many cocktail recipes.

This amber liquid has a long and rich history that spans across multiple centuries and cultures, with Scotch Whisky, Irish Whisky, and American Whisky being amongst the most popular versions of the spirit. You may have noticed the two spelling variations of this liquor – well according to the history books, it’s widely believed that when Irish whiskey distillers were looking for a way to differentiate their product from Scotch Whisky they added in the ‘e’.

Throughout the rest of the information provided, we will alternate between the two spellings depending on where the whiskey/whisky was distilled, but the Scotch version will be the default spelling. So what’s the history behind the iconic amber beverage Australia loves.

Although Whisky is most commonly associated with Scotland and Ireland, the first recorded practice of distilling alcohol from wine (which would eventually become Whisky) came from Italy in the 1200s. But to be fair, it wouldn’t take long for this practice to find its way into Scotland with the art of distillation becoming commonplace no later than the 15th century. Over the years, Whisky has diversified into lots of different flavours, varieties and production methods, (even being used as a currency during the American revolution!) but single malt Whisky is still generally considered the most popular type.

Whiskey was introduced to the Americas by early colonialists, who brought whiskey-making techniques with them. As the traditional barley grain used for whiskey did not thrive in the American climate, they substituted with grains that proved more adaptable, such as rye and corn. These days, corn has become the predominant grain used in American Whisky production.


Single malt whisky is named as such because there is only one base ingredient – barley. Traditionally, to make single malt whisky, barley is steeped in water in a tank or Saladin box to hydrate and germinate the grain. After this initial step, the barley is malted. Malting refers to the practice of drying out grain, and typically is done by drying the grain in a kiln, but some artisan distillers still practice the traditional “floor malting” which is a very long and very manual process.

The malted barley is crushed into grist then mashed, which allows distillers to extract sugar from the grain. The resulting mixture, known as the mash or wort is placed in a washback or large tub with yeast to begin the fermentation. As the yeast becomes active, it eats the sugars in the mash, converting them to alcohol and creating a beer-like liquid.

The distillation process varies depending on the type of whisky and distillery style, which also impacts the alcohol content of the spirit. During this process, the alcohol rises as a vapour and once it starts to cool condenses back down to a liquid. As the still separates the alcohol from water in the fermented mix, it turns the wash into a higher-proof ‘new-make’ spirit.

Finally, the ‘new make’ spirit is matured in wooden barrels. The choice of cask is important, as different woods and previous uses can impart flavour. The maturation in the cask is responsible for 60 to 80 per cent of the liquor’s flavour profile. The whisky is then often transferred into a second cask to finish. A finishing cask for whisky is commonly one that had previously held port, sherry, flavoured rum, wine or any desired spirit or flavour, such as American Bourbon.


Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Perhaps the most famous producers of whisky, Scotland’s whisky production is deeply rooted in tradition and the drink is considered Scotland’s national liquor. The Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) uses the following categories in respect to the division of regions: Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Campbeltown and Islay. Traditionally all Scotch whiskies are made using barley (which is still essential to be considered a single malt whisky), but as time progressed distilleries started distilling whisky from other grains such as rye and wheat. Scotch whisky must also be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years to be considered a true Scotch. As of 2020, there are approximately 130 Scotch Whisky distillers in Scotland, and Spirits Platform has the pleasure of representing five of these brands in Australia. These brands include Highland Park, The Glenrothes, Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte, Octomore and luxury whisky maker The Macallan – this premium spirit won the World Whiskies Award best whisky in the world in 2020.

American Single Malt Whiskey
For centuries, single malt Whisky has been considered solely the domain of Scotland, but now, Westland American Single Malt Whiskey is leading the emergence of an entirely new category of single malt Whiskey. Previously dominated by the likes of Jack Daniel and Jim Beam, the American Whiskey game is opening up for newer players. Spirits Platform proudly represents two leading American Whiskey brands – Westland and Yellow Rose. Westland in particular is unique as it is crafted in the Pacific Northwest. This climate is ideally suited for the production of single malt American Whiskey as Washington contains two of the best barley-growing regions in the world, and the remarkable water used in the process is sourced from the Cascade Mountains. Westland is renowned for its 5 malt barley build in which drives its full flavour and character. Our other American Whiskey Yellow Rose is crafted in their Houston Texas distillery, where the dynamic climate allows the liquor to pick up more of the cask characteristics in a shorter period of time. Yellow Rose’s Outlaw Bourbon Whiskey was even awarded 94 points in Jim Murray’s 2020 Whisky Bible.

Blended Malt Whisky
A blended malt is a blend of two or more single malt Scotch whiskies from different distilleries. Naked Malt is a unique blend of the finest Scottish single malts, extra matured in naked first-filled sherry casks. Naked casks are the name given to first-fill Oloroso sherry casks because they’ve never held whisky before. They extra mature their blend in these casks for six months, which adds a layer of rich and fruity flavour. We also have The Famous Grouse and should mention Scotland’s favourite whisky for over 40 years.
It’s no wonder that Whisky is one of the world’s most popular liquors – its distinct flavours, cultural variations and availability ensure there’s a Whisky for every taste. Whether you like Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Single Malt American Whiskey or Blended Malt Whisky, Spirits Platform distributes some of the best whiskey brands Australia-wide.



The Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) uses the following division of regions: Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Campbeltown & Islay. Highland Whiskies were renowned for flavours of heather and honey, with 47 distilleries located within the region.


To be labelled Irish Whiskey, it must produced and reach maturity in a distillery located within the island of Ireland. This includes of both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.


Spirits Academy

John Smith

President, CEO, and Executive Board Member

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