There are few hard and fast rules in life. If someone hands you their phone to look at a specific photo, you don’t swipe to see more. The driver controls the tunes. If you don’t cook, you clean up. And never change the way Scotch is aged. All except that last one are about to change.
A quick lesson from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the governing body of Scotch whiskey, is that in order to be called Scotch whiskey it must be distilled from Scottish water and malted barley, and mature in the country in oak barrels for three years.” But like all things, change will inevitably occur. And the Scotch Whisky Technical File, yes, that’s a thing, has just been amended. What it now says is that Scotch must be aged in oak casks that have been used to mature wine, beer, or spirits. The only rule is that these old barrels can’t have been used to age anything distilled from a “stone fruit”, or a fruit with a pit, like a peach or cherry, or any barrel that may have had a sweetener added to it.
So what does this mean for you, the Scotch lover? Well, it leaves the door open for Scotch matured in, wait for it, tequila barrels. Scotch purists, of course, believe that this is a travesty of the highest order. They believe that since both products are iconic to the country they are produced in, they should never mix. Literally. But a new wave of younger Scotch drinkers are saying, “Hey, let’s shake things up a bit”. And who knows, the next great whiskey could be concocted from a peat bog in the Islay region of Scotland and aged for years in an Agave flavored barrel from Mexico. I know I’d try it