Whiskey Terms Connoisseurs Like To Throw Around That Keep Us In The Dark

November 02, 2018

Whiskey Terms Connoisseurs Like To Throw Around That Keep Us In The Dark

Have you ever heard someone said “This iron dram is a unicorn and the nose and the palate indicates that this is a high wine” while sipping a glass of whiskey with metal dices in it? Then you have encountered a connoisseur, people who have devoted a better part of their lives learning and appreciating whiskeys and other liquors. Kind of like nerds, but for alcohols. Their world is uniquely refined, esoteric, and quite intimidating.

But that does not mean you should be an outsider forever. Simply understanding the words they throw around will provide you a deeper perception of their world, and a better insight of the industry you starting to love.

Here are a few key terms connoisseurs and refined drinkers always speak of, best read while sipping a finger of of Scotch.



Means Alcohol by Volume. This indicates how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in a given volume of the bottle.

Alligator char

Barrels are charred up to different levels, normally ranging 1 to 4, with 1 being slightly burnt and 4 being called the Alligator char. So-called because of the rough and shiny texture like that of alligator skin.

Angel’s share

The small portion of whiskey that evaporates while being aged in oak barrels, believed to be going to the angels above. Heaven must be a big party.



An angel appreciating its share.

Brain look

The fermentation process’ first day when the mash is like brain with its uneven surface.


The oak barrel, normally 500 liters in capacity, which originally contains the sherry.

Cask finish

When the whiskeys is transferred from one barrel to another to further age it and to add more flavor. Like a graduate school for whiskeys.


The process of slightly burning the inside of the barrel to allow the liquid to interact with the wood further, adding more flavor. Also called toasting in UK.


The chemical compounds that were formed during the whiskey’s fermentation process. These impurities are responsible for the liquid’s delicious flavor.


The place where the production of oak barrels happen. The person trained to make the barrels is called a cooper.



 A cooperage in Japan.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons



A traditional measure for a glass of whiskey, normally about one-eighth of an ounce.


A dram of whiskey.
Photo: succo/Pixabay



The type of alcohol found is whiskey. The one to blame every time you drunk-text your ex.

Fake tan

An artificially-colored whiskey. Naturally, whiskey gets darker the longer it ages inside the barrel.


An informal measurement of whiskey done by putting a finger horizontally on the side of the glass. This will denote the height of the liquid. Mostly about an ounce. If you are Shaquille O'Neal, then that’s half of the bottle.


The second to the last part of the whiskey-tasting process when you finally swallow the liquid, detecting the smell and taste as it passes through your throat. The final part is when you blurt out high-fluting words to impress the ladies.


A whiskey above 140 proof (70% ABV). Jokingly called such because you cannot approach it without wearing a hazard-protective suit because of its intense strength. Whiskeys like these are not allowed inside airplanes.



The Bruichladdich X4 Quadrupled Whiskey from Scotland has a proof of 184 (92% alcohol).


High wine

A liquor that went through a second distillation. Regularly of high alcohol content.

Iron dram

A whiskey of very high strength. Contrary to what some might tell you, iron drams are NOT aged in steel barrels.


The “tears” (as the French called them) that drip down on the side of the glass after you swirl the liquor. This is indicative of the whiskey’s alcohol level. More legs mean higher alcohol level. Fewer legs equate to lower alcohol level.


The method of converting the starch in barley into sugar. This, in turn, is converted into alcohol during the fermentation process.


The process of combining grist and warm water to dissolve the natural sugars, forming a sugary solution.

Master blender

The person whom the company/distillery entrusts with the art of art of selecting and mixing whiskeys of various age and/or origin to come up with the best flavor profile of the whiskey. Normally seen wearing tweed jackets, thick glasses, and 80s era mustache.


1. The process of aging whiskey inside barrels to absorb its flavors over an extended period of time.

2. The kind of level people who keep getting flat-out drunk and looking for fights in dive bars has yet to reach.


Whiskeys are known to mature faster than men.
Photo: thom masat/Unsplash



The part of smelling the whiskey during the tasting process to get the hint of its aromas and flavor profile.


The part of sipping and tasting the whiskey during the tasting process to further examine its aromas and flavor profile.


A very dense layer of earth containing soil, decaying vegetation, tree roots, and moss compressed over a thousand years. It is usually being dried and used as a fuel.


 Dried peat.
Photo: martaposemuckel/Pixabay


Peat monster

A whiskey that is heavily peated.


A traditional measurement of strengths in liquors and spirits. A proof is 1.75 times that of ABV.


A place being used to store barrels for aging.  Can be made of wood, cement, or bricks.

A typical rickhouse.
Photo: fred crandon/Unsplash



A highly-rare bottle of whiskey, usually coming with exorbitant price tags.


There are only 50 bottles of the Glenlivet Winchester Collection: Vintage 1964 produced, each one clocking upwards of US$25,000.



A class of astringent, polyphenolic biomolecules responsible in wine and whiskey’s bitter taste, giving them its dry flavor.


Whiskey Stones

Small natural stones (typically soapstone cut in a cube or round shape) being chilled and added to whiskey in place of ice. Whiskey Stones lower the drink’s temperature without heavily watering it down.

 Whiskey stones.


White dog

A whiskey that has not been aged yet. So-called because of its clear, water-like color. Also called moonshine.

Worm Tub

A tub with a long shaking pipe where condensation of alcohol vapors happen. They missed the opportunity to call this python tub, which sounds way cooler.

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