The Glossary of Terminology is currently being compiled.
Last Updated 23rd April 2024






A compound found in beverages to be internally consumed (usually drank in liquid form), the alcohol is in the form of Ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, drinking alcohol, or simply alcohol).

It is an organic compound with the commonly written formula CH3CH2OH 

Ethanol is naturally produced during the fermentation process of sugars by yeast.

Alcohol by volume

Alcohol by volume (abbreviated as ABV, abv, or alc/vol) is a standard measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage.

It is defined as the number of millilitres (ml) of pure ethanol present in 100 ml of solution at 20 °C (68 °F) and expressed as a % percentage.


The legal minimum ABV of Scotch Whisky is 40%, this would mean there would be 40ml of Alcohol (Ethanol) for every 100ml of solution (whisky).

A typical 700ml bottle of 40% ABV Scotch Whisky would therefore have:

700ml / 100ml = 7

40ml (%) x 7 = 280ml of Alcohol (Ethanol) per bottle.

Age Statement
Aging (Maturation)

Age (Age Statement) is the unit of time expressed in Complete Years that a whisky has been in contact with wood (matured) in a wooden cask before being disgorged and subsequently bottled.

The count begins the moment the cask has been filled and sealed to the moment the whisky has been removed from the cask and NOT placed into an additional cask.

It is only the time the whisky has been in contact with wood that counts towards the age and expressed as full years.

Example 1;

A Whisky spent 4 years and 6 months in Cask A before being immediately transferred to Cask B for a further 4 years and 3 months. The Age of the Whisky is 8 Years.

Example 2;

A Whisky spent 5 years and 1 month in Cask A before being immediately transferred to Cask B for a further 4 years and 11 months. The Age of the Whisky is 10 Years.

Example 3;

The spirit filled the Cask on 01/01/2010. The Cask was disgorged on 02/01/2022
The Age of the Whisky is 12 Years.

Example 4;

The spirit filled Cask A on 01/01/2010. The Whisky was then transferred from Cask A to Cask B on the 05/06/2015. Cask B was disgorged on 04/05/2018

The Age of the Whisky is 7 Years.

Alligator Char

A think layer of charred wood on the inside of a wood Cask which when viewed looks like the pattern of alligator hide.

American White Oak

A variety of oak, latin species name Quercus alba predominantly used in North America and compulsory in use in the aging of Bourbon Whiskey. 

American Standard Barrel

The typical size of American White Oak Barrel used in the making of Bourbon in the USA, 53 US Gallons approx 200 Litres. It is one of the smallest barrels to be used in Scotch Whisky production. The ASB is the De Facto standard size barrel used in whisky making globally due to the availability of the Barrel following use in the Bourbonindustry.

Angels Share

The term given to the loss of alcohol (ethanol) via the porous wood of a Cask during the aging of whisky.






A Grain (Hordeum vulgare) from the genus of sweet grass, is the 4th (fourth) major cereal crop grown in mainly temperate climates. Used as animal feed (70%) with the remaining (30%) used across fermentable beverages such as beer making, distilled spirits such as whisky and in broths and bread making etc.


Generically called a Cask, it is a hollow wooden cylindrical container with a bulging centre, longer than it is wide. Made using wooden Staves bound together with wooden or metal hoops.

In Scotch Whisky they have to be constructed of Oak - there is no regulation on where the oak comes from but American White Oak and European Oak is most common.

A barrel can come in varying sizes but the most common in Scotch Whisky is the 200 Litre American Standard Barrel.


Barrique is French for a barrel

Batch Strength

Refers to the strength of the whisky without any dilution from water where more than one whisky has been blended together.


Whisky 1 has a Cask Strength of 62.3% ABV when transferred from the cask
Whisky 2 has a Cask Strength of 57.7% ABV when transferred from the cask
When blended together the Batch Strength would be the average strength of the two whiskies, for example calculated as:
62.3 + 57.7 = 120/2 = 60% ABV

However, Batch Strength can also be used interchangeably with Cask Strength to confuse the matter. Batch Strength can also be used on bottles of batch release whisky where the strength may change batch to batch.

And finally, different whisky producing areas indeed even producers, may have a specific description or assign a different meaning to the term depending on what marketing message they are trying to portray. 

And really finally, there is discussion as to whether some producers dilute the batch with water to create a desired strength. There is no official SWA definition on this term.

Beginner also:
Newbie (Noob)

Someone who is new to whisky or has not experienced enough variety in whisky to have an overview of the types and styles.

Someone who has very little knowledge of whisky terms or has basic whisky knowledge.

Someone starting out on their whisky journey.

Blended Whisky

A Blended Whisky is a whisky that has been composed of whisky from more than 1 (one) distillery.

In Scotch Whisky there are several categories:

Blended Malt Whisky - Malt Whisky from more than 1 (one) distillery
Blended Grain Whisky - Grain Whisky from more than 1 (one) distillery
Blended Scotch Whisky - Grain & Malt Whisky from the same or more distilleries.

Each whisky territory could have their own specification as to what constitutes a blended whisky, however, in the UK, England and Wales have adopted the same specifications as Scotland as set out in the 2009 Scotch Whisky Regulations.

Master Blender)

As the name suggests, the blender creates blends using whisk(e)y from different casks and is responsible for making sure the product remains consistent across different batches, sometimes the blender can be seen as the marketing figurehead of the company with their name & or signature often appearing on bottle labels.

Blood Tub

The smallest of the Cask sizes 30-40 Litres.
Almost never used commercially.
Mostly these are used for private Cask, allowing for a small, more manageable number of bottles for an individual, but the spirit’s intense interaction with the wood limits how long the maturation can be.


The feeling (haptic) of whisky in the mouth, such as
Thin, Oily, Syrupy, Dense, Heavy, Creamy.


The inert (non reactive) container that the whisky is stored in after maturation has finished. It is important that the container is inert or non reactive since whisky is at a minimum of 40% Alcohol and alcohol is a solvent, therefore the container must not breakdown or leach chemicals into the whisky. The most common materials used are Glass - Colourless and coloured.
Plastic PET (polyethylene terephthalate, semicrystalline) is rated as compatible for storage of 1-100% ethyl alcohol, the plastic will not be dissolved by ethanol, so no leaching. PET is the most common plastic used for storage of food and drink including spirits worldwide.


A United States Whiskey made according to the US Bourbon Act.

1. Made from a minimum of 51% Corn Maize.
2. The remaining 49% can be made from any combination of other cereals.
typically Wheat, Rye, Barley
3. Matured in NEW and Charred American White Oak Barrels
4. Distilled to no more than 80% Alcohol (160 US Proof)
5. Entered into the Barrel at no more than 62.5% Alcohol (125 US Proof)
6. Bottled at no less than 40% Alcohol (80 US Proof)

Bourbon Barrel

A Cask made from American Oak that previously held Bourbon Whiskey


A wooden stopper placed into a Cask.


A wooden (oak) Cask of between 475-500 Litres, usually American, French or Spanish.





One of the Five Scotch Whisky Regions, Campbeltown is a small harbour town located on the Eastern Coast of the Kintyre Peninsula which is located to the South West of Scotland, West of the Isle of Arran. It currently has 3 (three) active distilleries producing 5 (five) whisky brands

Glen Scotia Distillery - Glen Scotia Whisky
Glengyle Distillery - Kilkerran Whisky
Springbank Distillery - Springbank Whisky, Hazelburn Whisky, Longrow Whisky

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

A bi-product of the fermentation process by yeast in the conversion of sugars to alcohol. It is a colourless gas. There are various initiatives taking place in the Scotch Whisky Industry to capture the gas for use in other industries.

See Project Nexus in partnership with Whyte & Mackay (link in new window)


A generic term to describe a wooden cylindrical shaped vessel composed of wooden staves with metal hoops locking the staves in place. The most common form of cask in the whisky industry is the Barrel - follow the link for further information.

The maximum permitted size of a cask in the Scotch Whisky Industry is 700 Litres.

Cask Finish / Cask Finishing

The term refers to the maturation of whisky. When a whisky is transferred from the primary cask to a secondary cask, or even tertiary cask, for an additional maturation, it is known as a Cask Finish. Of late, there has been a massive influx of ‘finished’ malts. Often the additional cask used is more ‘exotic’, and examples include Sauternes Cask Finish and Rum Cask Finish. Cask Finishing is fraught with much controversy, as purists argue it is not traditional and the finished spirit ceases to be a Single Malt. Proponents argue it allows for more variation and helps modernise the industry.

Cask Strength

The strength of the whisky without any further dilution when transferred from the cask to bottle. Not to be confused with Batch Strength which can also be used interchangeably with Cask Strength, however, it does have its own meaning.

Charring / Char

The act of firing the interior of an oak cask. This technique is of key importance in the production of bourbon and a charred cask imparts a sweetness to the spirit as well as vanilla.

Chill Filtration / Chill Filtered (Filtering) / CF / ALSO Non-Chill Filtered / NCF / Un-Chill Filtered / UnCF

A method of filtering whisky employed to remove residue and a cloudiness which appears when the spirit reaches lower temperatures. Chill-filtration involves chilling the spirit to between -10 and 4°C and then passing it through a very fine filter.

At such temperatures the fatty acids, proteins and esters compound as large clumps which are too large to pass through the filter. This method is highly controversial for it is said to remove flavour and body from the whisky.

There are no Scotch Whisky Association rules around the need to mention whether the whisky has or has not been chill filtered. As such there has been a growing movement amongst Whisky Enthusiasts to push for 'Transparency' in the industry, specifically the wish to see a change in SWA rules forcing producers to disclose the filtration status on the bottle label.

The Term Chill Filtration is often shortened to CF.
A whisky which has not be Chill Filtered often have the words:
Non-Chill Filtered / Non Chill Filtered / Not Chill Filtered / Un-Chill Filtered
or abbreviated as NCF or rarer UnCF.

The reason behind the need to chill filter is, according to some, purely aesthetic, that is, as the whisky temperature lowers or the ABV lowers, by the introduction of additional water or ice, the liquid begins to go cloudy and form what is commonly described as 'Scotch Mist', that is, a haze appears adjusting the clarity. This occurs due to the alcohols ability to be an effective solvent. At Ethanol levels of 46% ABV and above, there is sufficient alcohol to water ratio to keep the fats and proteins dissolved in solution, this ability is greatly reduced as the alcohol to water ratio changes, below 46% ABV a whisky which has not been chill filtered could appear hazy, some uninformed consumers may see this as a defective or contaminated product.
Furthermore, whisky enthusiasts believe they can tell if a whisky has been chill filtered, there is a general consensus that of two identical whiskies except for filtration status, the whisky which has not been filtered will give a better tasting experience.

Not all whiskies below 46% ABV are chill filtered, often this is mention on the label are being unchill filtered, but conversely, there is controversy around some producers chill filtering above 46% ABV to achieve a perfect clarity and consistency amongst batch and experience.

Coffey Still

An enhanced version of the continuous still.
It was enhanced and then duly patented in 1831 by the Irishman, Aeneas Coffey.

In his patent application, Coffey claimed that his design made three new improvements over previous designs:

  1. Forcing the wash to pass rapidly through a pipe or pipes of small diameter, during the time it is acquiring heat and before it reaches its boiling temperature.
  2. Causing the wash, after it has come in contact with the vapours, to flow into a continued and uninterrupted stream over numerous metallic plates, furnished with valves
  3. The method of ascertaining whether or not the wash exhausted of its alcohol by means of the apparatus herein described or any similar apparatus, whereby the vapour to be tried undergoes a process of analyzation or rectification, and is deprived of much of its aqueous part before it is submitted to trial.

Column Still

For more see Continuous Still

Column stills behave like a series of single pot stills, formed in a long vertical tube. The tube is filled with either porous packing or bubble plates. The rising vapour, which is low in alcohol, starts to condense in the cooler, higher level of the column. The temperature of each successively higher stage is slightly lower than the previous stage, so the vapour in equilibrium with the liquid at each stage is progressively more enriched with alcohol.

Condensation / Condensing

The cooling of a gas to a liquid. In a still, condensation is part of a continuous and repeating cycle of evaporation and condensation in a process which extracts ethanol.


Compounds, impurities which are the result of fermentation, thought to be a key part of the character of a whisky.

Continuous Still

A distillation device which involves the constant distillation and re-heating of an alcoholic liquid.
This is an extremely efficient method of distillation and the distillate can be as high as 96% ABV, though the spirit retains less congeners or character, thus is not favoured for whisky production.