whisky casks
whisky distillery

Is English whisky really a thing?

Whisky is most likely known to you as Scottish, Irish or American. Though England is not well known for whisky, distillers operated in England until the late 19th century, after which English single malt whisky production ceased. Since 2003 English whisky has experienced a renaissance. Even a typical whisky tour enjoying the English variants is possible nowadays.

The real whisky snobs probably turn their noses up at that. They might think one has to go to Scotland for a real whisky experience. But that is no longer true, well, not the only truth anyway.

At least eight distilleries produce whisky in England, and more are in the pipeline. A distiller in The Cotswolds and others in the east, in Norfolk,  the English Whisky Co and Adnams in Southwold organises tours. Other distillers are in Dartmoor, London, Henstone, Isle of Wight, Oxford, Lake District and Yorkshire.

Take a tour whisky tour in London

whisky wash

A tour of an English whisky distillery

Luckily for the participants, one must not be particularly sober to understand the whisky production process. In short, it’s like this: add some water to barley (or grain) and heat the stuff. To enrich the drink with an extra nasty taste, use peat during kilning of the malt. Then let the stuff ferment and distil the liquor. Next, the liquid is poured into a barrel, and Bob is your uncle. Well, more of an infant, tbh. The drink’s minimum age is at least three years before it can be legally sold as whisky.

After reading the previous paragraph, you might think a tour is no longer necessary as you know it all. That’s right. You can buy a bottle of (English) whisky instead of going through the whole shenanigans of a tour. But of course, the tour is just the beginning of this outing. To maximise the fun, conclude by sampling different varieties, which is done at the distillery’s shop.


10 Fun Whisky Facts

Prepare with these fun facts below to make the most of your whisky tour.

  1. Kikori is a Japanese whisky made from rice. Bourbon is the American whiskey variety.
  2. Whiskey from Ireland and the US is written with an ‘e’. Whisky from Scotland, England and Canada without ‘e’. According to the English spelling rules, the plural is whiskeys, respectively whiskies.
  3. You can get drunk ‘safely’ on whisky with a gluten allergy because distilled alcoholic beverages are gluten-free (source).
  4. Scotch whisky contributes almost £5 billion annually to the UK economy.
  5. It is possible to earn a college degree in distilling.
  6. The residual liquid is not wasted but used to water agricultural land, and cows supposedly like the ‘edible’ pulp that remains during production. Who knew?
  7. The portion that evaporates during maturation is the angels’ share.
  8. In England, more liquid evaporates during the ageing process than in Scotland because of its warmer climate. With this, the English whisky would age sooner and be ready for consumption earlier.
  9. Single malt is often confused with single-cask whisky. In fact, it is the product of a single distillery, but it can be a mixture of several casks.
  10. If you like your whisky chilled, drink it on the rocks and not with ice. Whisky rocks (aka whisky stones) help to keep drinks chilled without diluting the whiskies’ flavour. Because god forbid, ice cubes dilute the liquid when the ice melts. As a bottle of this divine drink will easily set you back more than forty pounds, you want it straight or on the rocks.

More Norfolk

Did you know that Norfolk has many more gastronomical delights to offer? There is aslo fantastic seafood, sweets and even wine to be had. 

Do try the food whilst hiking the Norfolk Coastal Walk or when visiting Norwich, the provincial capital.


Magical Manchester, the city of bees

Magical Manchester, the city of bees

Manchester, a city in the northwest of England, has many facades. Sparkling, edgy, modern and Victorian. Historic buildings and skyscrapers stand side by side whilst bleak suburbs surround the lively town centre. The nearby Peak District and Lake District only add to its appeal.

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