The world of Mad Men, the now-famous TV series chronicling the lives of advertising men in 1960s America, has made reminded us all that a good scotch whisky is sometimes an absolutely necessary part of the work day. For his part, Don Draper is the very image of whisky as a man’s drink, with untold depths of complexity.

Called the most organoleptically complex spirit in the world by famed whisky writer Charles MacLean, whisky is amazingly popular worldwide, with single malt scotch in particular drawing the attention of connoisseurs. However, the very complexity of the spirit makes it very difficult indeed to figure out how to select a good bottle of scotch. 

Below we present five essential steps in selecting a good bottle of scotch. It won’t make you a connoisseur but it will show you how to get there. 

There are two prominent spellings for whisky, either whisky or whiskey. Whiskey is typically used by Irish and American distilleries, while whisky is used by Scottish, Canadian and Japanese distilleries. 
Scotch is strictly produced from malted barley (other grains may be added) in a distillery in Scotland.
There are three main types of scotch: single malt, single grain and blended
For single malt or single grain whiskies, the word single refers to the distillery, not the type of malt or grain used
While malt whiskies use malted barley, grain whiskies typically combine both grains and malt.
A blended scotch is the combination of two or more single malt or single grain whiskies
There are three definitions of blended scotch – blended malt scotch is a combination of two or more single malts; blended grain scotch is a combination of two or more single grains; blended scotch is a combination of both single malts and single grains
Like wine, knowledge of individual distilleries and their special properties is essential.
For example, malting, where the barley is mixed with water to start the fermentation process, is done in-house by only a few distilleries
Malt scotch involves a double distillation process, although some distilleries introduce more.
Grain scotch involves a single or continuous distillation process.
The size and shape of the stills used by a distillery are believed to affect the final bottled product, with distilleries taking pains to replicate their original stills down to the precise specifications when replacing old stills or adding new stills. 

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