Now that you know a little about the regions, the brands, and the age of whiskies, you need to know some interesting facts so that you can have pretentious conversations with other aficionados. These will be presented in point form.

  • Scotch whisky must be distilled in Scotland in order to be called Scotch. Scotch can be bottled elsewhere, but it must be distilled in Scotland.

  • The word "whisky" comes from uisge, a shortened form of uisge beatha, which means "water of life" in Scots Gaelic.

  • It is traditionally believed that whisky came to Scotland from Ireland. The earliest recorded distillation of whisky in Scotland was in 1494, by Friar John Cor, but this was for a very large quantity of whisky (such as an established distillery would produce) and it would be a mistake to assume that he invented Scotch or anything like that. Nobody knows who invented Scotch.

  • Most people consider it gauche to serve single malt whisky with any mixer stronger than club soda. Some popular ways to drink single malts are: straight up, over ice, or with a splash of water or club soda. We think it is a waste to drink single malts with club soda, as the carbonation interferes with your appreciation of their subtler qualities. We've known scotch snobs who claimed to find even the addition of ice cubes disgraceful, but we don't see any need for that level of pretentiousness.

  • Nearly all scotch is chilfiltered, which removes solids that cause the scotch to become cloudy when ice cubes are added. This was done to appease the tastes of American consumers who did not like their liquor to turn cloudy. For those who want to taste scotch the way the old Highlanders drank it, cloudiness and all, here are two unchilfiltered brands: Te Bheag and Praban.

  • Most scotch is watered down to a standard strength of 80 or 86 proof (40% or 43% alcohol) before it is bottled. Scotch must have a minimum strength of 80 proof. However, some scotches are sold at "cask strength" which means they are bottled directly out of the barrel and can be as strong as 120 proof.

  • Scotch whisky is made from all natural ingredients, all of which are found in Scotland. Scotch cannot be made anywhere else, though many have tried. Scotch requires the ingredients, the cool, damp conditions, and the experience of Scottish distillers.