Stringent parameters exist in English law for whisky to be called Scotch, as seen in the most crucial parts of the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009, which every Scotch distillery must follow:
The Basic Elements: It must be produced from water and malted barley with the possible addition of only whole grains of other cereals.
The Process: It must be processed into a mash, be acted upon by very specific types of enzymes, fermented only by yeast and matured in oak casks for at least three years.
No Additives: Nothing can be added except water and/or caramel coloring.
The Kick: It cannot exceed 94.8% alcoholic strength.
Pairings: Red and smoked meats, cheese, cigars, chocolate.
Featured here: Speymalt Macallan Distillery 1972. Available for $299 at Hamptons Wine Shoppe, Westhampton Beach. hamptonswineshoppe.com.
The Macallan Distillery was established in 1824 on land leased from the Earl of Seafield by Alexander Reid, an innovative farmer and distiller.
The Macallan Estate, home of The Macallan Distillery, grows Minstrel Barley exclusively for use in their Scotch. It has the desired rich and oily character, is low in nitrogen and high in starch (good for the fermentation process) and is more expensive than other barleys.
Scientifically watering down Scotch occurs at distilleries as Scotch straight from the cask can have too assertive a flavor. In the glass, some say that a pinch of water enhances the aroma and therefore the taste of the liquor, but can dilute the quality of the drink. Tread lightly.