By Jonny McCormick

Ask The Expert

Send your questions to or by post to: Q&A, Whisky Magazine, 6 Woolgate Court, St Benedicts Street, Norwich, England, NR2 4AP
I am searching for a three-five day whisky school/whisky class during which I could learn more about the whisky making process from grain to glass. Can you recommend any courses in Scotland or the United States?
H. Fratean

Although online whisky classes and tutored tasting classes are flourishing, for an authentic, hands-on experience you really need to get yourself to a distillery. Currently, I would highly recommend the three day Glenlivet Whisky School or the five day Springbank Whisky School in Scotland. Another option to consider for 2016 is the Spirit of Speyside Whisky School held over three days around the festival. Places are very limited and it can get booked up quickly, so plan this one well in advance to avoid disappointment. There is the superb Irish Whiskey Academy offering a high quality experience that you should consider. Go for the two day Enthusiast's Package - it really is one of the best around. In the US, there are two day classes offered by the 45th Parallel Distillery in New Richmond, WI, by the Mississippi River Distilling Co. in Le Claire, IO, and many others are available. It's a great way to take your whisky learning to the next level.

I have had a bottle of White Heather whisky for over 20 years, which my father owned before me. I am thinking about gifting it to my neighbour who is turning 100 years old and it would be nice to tell her how old it is. She has never smoked and still enjoys a glass of red wine or whisky every evening. She is an inspiring woman who I am honoured to have in my life.
S. Sarkis, Sydney

White Heather is a blended Scotch whisky, so it will be made up of numerous different single malts and grains. Legally, only the youngest whisky in the blend can be used to make a statement about age, so many blends simply carry the name. That means the whiskies can be anything from three years old and upwards. It is important to reiterate that whisky does not age in the bottle, so a 12 Years Old whisky bottled 28 years ago is still a 12 Years Old whisky, not a 40 Years Old. White Heather whisky has been bottled in different formats and packaging. Your bottle is the square, dumpy edition of the deluxe blended Scotch whisky bottled for export. Judging by the capacity, the fonts on the box and the neck foils, this is likely to be a 1970s bottling. Although 'Deluxe' is a technically meaningless term, usually the whisky industry used it to signify a higher malt to grain content and for the use of older, more mature single malts - i.e. the good stuff!

Do pass on our congratulations and many happy returns to your centenarian neighbour from all of us at Whisky Magazine when you gift her the bottle.

I've got a bottle of Cardhu called Cardhu Pure Malt 12 Years Old. What I see in shops is Cardhu Single Malt 12 Years Old. Is this the same whisky (the box looks almost identical)?
P. Hosek, Vienna

Trust me, it is not exactly the same whisky (and I love Cardhu and its strong connection with Johnnie Walker). Let me take you back to 2003: Diageo began to style it as a pure malt, which in those days meant a vatted malt containing single malt from more than one distillery, not a single malt.

These days it would be called a blended malt whisky. In fact, these days they would have readily released a non-age statement whisky but in 2003, the 12 Years Old age statement was possibly deemed to be a greater asset than the distillery name. The concerns centered on the potential consumer confusion of selling a blended malt whisky with the same name as a single malt whisky. However, this move created such a stramash amongst the media, whisky drinkers and Diageo's competitors that eventually the single malt was re-introduced. The Scotch Whisky Regulations (2009) swept away terms such as pure malt and vatted malt and set out clear, new categories, which everyone has grown used to. The Cardhu Pure Malt 12 Years Old still surfaces regularly at auction, although selling for just £30-50. You could say that's quite similar to a bottle of Cardhu 12 Years Old single malt whisky.