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Tennessee Whiskey and a snack. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.



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March 2006
Last Updated March 2012

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Cocktails & Spirits

Whiskey Glossary

Page 5: Tennessee Whiskey, Wort & Other Terms With T-Z


This glossary is a companion piece to our overview article about whiskey, Whiskey 101. Please contact us if you’d like to suggest additional terms. The Whiskey Glossary is just one of many NIBBLE Food Glossaries. Take a look at the entire collection.


Click on a letter to go to the appropriate glossary section:

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This glossary is protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part.



A product identical to Bourbon in almost every respect. The key difference is that Tennessee whiskey is filtered through sugar maple charcoal, which provides a unique flavor and aroma. Bourbon does not go through a charcoal mellowing. Jack Daniel’s is the leading example. Historical note: Jack Daniel’s is the oldest registered distillery in the States, registered in 1866.



In Gaelic, the language of the Irish, the name was given to the distillate produced by Irish monks of the sixth century C.E. to the drink they created. Pronounced ISH-ka BA-ha, it evolved to whiskey. The monks also called the beverage aqua vitae in Latin. Both phrases mean the same: water of life.

  Jack Daniel's
The most famous of the Tennessee whiskeys. Photo courtesy Jack Daniel’s.


A slightly different spelling for the same “water of life” in Celtic, the language of the Scots, and a slightly different pronunciation, ISH-ka BYA-ha.


The mixing together of identical whiskeys from a single distillery, but from different casks, in order to maintain continuity of character for a particular brand of whiskey.


A blend of single malt whiskies from several different distilleries. This process creates a whiskey with more complex characteristics than are often found in single malts. Recent changes in law have replaced the term “vatted malt” on labels with “blended malt” or “blended malt whisky.” This is unfortunately misleading. Blended whiskies are mixed of different types of whiskey: single malts made from barley or other whiskies made from other grains or from neutral spirit. Vatted malt Scotch, while a blend, is made only from single malts.


The term given to the fermented liquid prior to being pumped into the wash still for the first distillation.


Also referred to as fermenters in Ireland, these are huge containers that hold the fermenting liquid as it changes from wort to wash.


A spirit, or alcoholic distillate, made from a fermented mash of grain or malt and aged in barrels (the brown color comes from barrel aging). There are numerous types of whiskey—American (Bourbon, corn, Tennessee, rye), Canadian, Irish, Scotch and others. Each is distinguished by the type of grain (barley, corn, rye) used in the fermentation process, as well as the distinct distillation and aging process. Australia, England, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and Thailand, all strong markets for whiskey, now produce their own. Regardless of the variety or country of origin, a general rule of thumb is that all straight whiskeys must be aged at least two years in wood, generally oak. Each nation has its own rules and regulations about what constitutes a true whiskey.

  Suntory Whiskey
Suntory, the Japanese corporate giant that owns Ballantine’s, Bowmore, Glenfiddich, Jack Daniel’s and The Macallan, makes its own whiskies, including Hibiki and Hibiki 30  Years.


The Scottish spelling of whiskey, chosen to differentiate its product from Irish whiskey. The spelling is used by Canada, Japan and Wales as well. A 1968 directive of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms specifies “whisky” as the official U.S. spelling, but allows the alternative spelling, “whiskey,” which most U.S. producers prefer.


An apparatus, normally a coiled copper tube, in which the vaporized alcohol form the stills condenses and is separated from the water.


The liquid created by mashing malted barley. Now, the sugars can be fermented into alcohol.


An organism that feeds on sugar, forming alcohol as a by-product. Yeast is added to the wort in the mash tuns to aid the fermentation.


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Sources & Acknowledgements

Several books were read in the course of developing this glossary. Some terms came from ClassicWhiskey.com. Some information came from Wikipedia.

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