If you had asked anyone in the 1970s whether they had drunk Australian or English wine (not least a good one), they would probably have laughed in your face. As far as many people were concerned, proper wine was made in France, Spain, Austria, Germany and Portugal. End of story.
Except it's not the end of the story, as the shelves in any good wine shop will attest. However, ask most people today whether they prefer Dutch or English whisky, and you'll probably get a similar reaction. As far as they are concerned, proper whisky is made in Scotland, Ireland, the United States and perhaps Canada. End of story.
Except it's not the end of the story, and why would it be? Whisky (or 'whiskey' in the US or Ireland) is made from grain, yeast or water and matured in oak casks - hardly the most difficult ingredients to come by. So why hasn't whisky been produced outside of its traditional heartlands? Well the fact is, it has. The Czech Republic, for example, has been distilling since 1877, Japan since 1924 and Spain since 1962, although little would have been seen outside of their own borders until relatively recently. However, once a Japanese whisky had been voted the world's best single malt by Whisky Magazine, people realized that Scotland, Ireland and the US didn't have a monopoly on great whisky.
Since the 1990s, there has been a veritable explosion in world production with every continent except Antarctica making its own whiskies. Mainland Europe, with its copious supplies of grain and considerable distilling experience, is at the forefront with distilleries from more than a dozen countries. The Zuidam distillery in The Netherlands has been making gin, vodka, genever and other liqueurs since 1974. In 1998 they decided to branch out in to whisky. Even India, with its extensive brewing experience, has got in on the act. Whisky from its Amrut distillery in Bangalore has been receiving rave reviews from many of the world's top whisky writers.
Our World tasting has five great world whiskies.