LEXICON: from Bacardi to Butt

The ‘B’ isn’t just another letter - it is also a pollinating insect. As such, we would
not be able to grow barley without the help of busy bees, So: no beer or whisky.
There are many other ‘B’ words that play an important role in the whisky world,
like ‘barrels’ that hold and mature whisky and ‘blending’ which allowed producers
to move more of their product. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for updates.


The Bacardi drinks conglomerate owns 5 Scotch malt whisky distilleries.
Balblair is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, possibly founded in 1790.
You won’t find a Ballantruan distillery on a map; it’s a peated Tomintoul variety.
The name Ballechin is used for the peated whisky made at Edradour distillery.
Ballindalloch is a part of the Speyside region around the town with that name.
The name Ballindalloch has been used for 'bastard' bottlings of Glenfarclas.
The Balmenach distillery (a.k.a. Balminoch) was founded as far back as 1824.
Balvenie’s first pot stills were 2nd hand stills from Glen Albyn and Lagavulin.
The (second) Banff distillery is appropriately located in the Banffshire area.
The humble barley plant has brought the world food and the basis for whisky.
The word ‘barrel’ can refer to all casks to mature whisky, or ex-bourbon barrels.
Cask type of 225 litres, used to mature Bordeaux wines from France.
Family run independent bottler Bartels Whisky have their own online shop.
A ‘bastard malt’ is a single malt whisky without specification of its heritage.
Malt whisky is distilled in ‘batches’ in pot stills. Bottlings are often batched too.

bonded warehouse
bottling (1)
bottling (2)
bottling year
bourbon whiskey

Beam Global (also known as Beam Inc.) was owned by Fortune Brands.
Since 2014 Beam Inc. is a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings in Japan.
In a way, beer is a primitive form of whisky. Some people never looked further.
Ben Nevis distilled malt whisky since 1825, but there was a Coffey still as well.
The reputation of the Benriach distillery improved notably under new owners.
The company Benriach Distillery Company owned three distilleries in 2015.
Benrinnes is a low profile distillery - and the source of Stronachie bastard malt.
The Benromach dstillery is owned by independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail.
Ben Wyvis was hardly a proper distillery, operating between 1965 and 1977.
Bere barley is a six-row barley cultivar mainly grown on Orkney and Islay.
Berry Bros. & Rudd may be the oldest independent bottler in the UK.
A phrase that isn't actually defined. Can be a sherry cask 'made to order'.
On the pages of MM, 'beverage' means low alcoholic drinks (beer, wine, etc.) 

A bocoy is a Spanish wine cask, containing between 600 and 800 litres.
The ‘body’ of a whisky describes the mouth feel and viscosity.
In Scotland casks of whisky are held ‘in bond’ until taxes are paid on them.
Thanks to the invention of bottles, we don’t have to drink straight from a cask.
A company that buys whisky casks and uses bottles to distribute the contents.
The process of transferring the cask contents into glass or ceramic containers.
A particular expression or batch from a distillery or independent bottler.
The year in which (part of) the contents of a cask was transferred into bottles.
The ‘nose’ of a whisky; the aromas and fragrances you detect in the glass.
An American type of whiskey, made from at least 51% corn.
Bowmore is a malt whisky distillery on Islay, overcoming a perfumy past.

BFYB is short for ‘bang-for-your-buck’ - the price / quality ratio of a whisky.
Blackadder is an independent bottler with sub-brands like Clydesdale.
The young, cheap Blackbarrel single grain whisky was produced at Girvan.
Blackwood was supposed to produce malt whisky eventually - but didn’t.
The ‘revived’ Bladnoch distillery quietly stopped producing a few years ago.
Blair Athol distillery in Pitlochry is arguably one of the prettiest in Scotland.
When you mix proper malt whisky with inferior grain whisky, you get a blend.
A blender mixes various whiskies and/or whisky types together.
A 34-40 litre bloodtub is one the smallest ‘traditional’ UK cask sizes.

Braes of Glenlivet
brand ambassador
brewers’ yeast
Brown Forman
Burn Stewart

The name ‘Brackla’ has been used for Royal Brackla whisky recently.
Braes of Glenlivet is the old name for the Braeval distillery.
The Breaval distillery used to be called ‘Braes of Glenlivet’ before 2008.
The topic of whisky brands is so complex that it deserves a page by itself.
A brand ambassador is paid to act enthusiastic about a particular brand.
The Brewdog corporation presents a punk face, but lawyers run the show.
A brewer nips potential whisky in the bud and turns it into beer instead.
The yeast used by beer brewers is often ‘Saccharomyces cerevisiae’.
Brewing is the art of seeping grains in water and creating alcohol.
A whisky broker used to be a ‘middle man’ between distilleries and blenders.
The old Brora distillery was replaced by Clynelish, but both ran for a while.
Until their purchase of Benriach Brown-Forman wasn’t involved with Scotch.
Bruichladdich on Islay got a new lease on life after re-opening in 2001.
A bung is a small, round peg that fits in the bunghole of a cask of whisky.
Whisky can get into and out of a barrel through a bunghole in the side.
After Burn Stewart took over Bunnahabhain the distillery’s profile improved.
Burnside isn’t a distillery or single malt, but a vatting of Balvenie & Glenfiddich.
Distell owns Burn Stewart - which owns Bunnahabhain, Deanston & Tobermory.
A person’s back end or a 500 litre ex-sherry cask used for solera or transport.


Barley in the fields

Barley (Hordeum vulgare) was one of the very first cultivated grains.
It was a staple food in parts of medieval Europe until potatoes were
imported from South America and it’s still used in many dishes and
health foods. Barley is also used as animal fodder (horses seem
to enjoy it in particular) and many varieties have been cultivated.

Ancient Egyptians are most admired for inventing mathematics
and the pyramid shape. They even built huge models of their
fancy new shape to brag about it to non-Egyptians and some
of them survive to this day. The fact that the ancient Egyptians
also discovered that you can turn regular barley into wonderful
beer is not as widely known. But it’s true - or so they inform me...

Around the year 2000, over 125 million tons of barley were grown
all over the world on an area of more than 500,000 square kilometres.
This makes barley the 4th ‘biggest’ cereal grain crop, after corn / maize.


The word ‘barrel’ is often used as a synonym for ‘cask’ - but that isn’t quite accurate.
It actually refers to a specific cask size. If we conveniently forget about the ‘UK’ barrel of +/- 120 litres, the
regular USA barrel contains +/- 200 litres. After being used once for bourbon they often end up in Scotland.

Benriach Distillery Company

The Benriach Distillery Company was formed to buy the Benriach distillery, so the name used to fit.
The folks behind the company are Scotsman Billy Walker (a former manager at the Burn Stewart bottling
operation) and two South African partners (Geoff Bell and Wayne Kieswetter). They indeed purchased the
(mothballed) Benriach distillery in 2004 and turned it into a success. But they then went on to buy other
distilleries as well - Glendronach and Glenglassaugh - before being taken over by Brown Forman in 2016.

Bespoke cask

The phrase ‘bespoke cask’ isn’t clearly defined, but it usually means “made to order”.
This evokes thoughts of stylish bespoke suits from Saville Row, but the daily lives of most bespoke casks
are not quite as charmed. When the availability of genuine sherry casks dropped in the 1980s and 1990s,
Scotch whisky makers asked cooperages to ‘treat’ casks with sulphur and/or paxarette to re-create that
wonderful sherried character that many people love. Not everybody feels it is quite the same...


The Blackwood distillery was supposed to be the first to be built on the Shetland islands - but it never
was. It would have been located near South Nesting, somewhere between Laxo and Lerwick. The first plans
were reveiled in November 2002 and by May 2008 it had all ended in tears and rumours of fraud.


The body of a whisky refers to its ‘mouth feel’ - or at least that’s how I’ve have always understood it.
It’s actually difficult to describe all the sensations involved, but a head-to-head tasting is a great way to
compare the traits of different whiskies in this respect. Pick a few different whiskies and make sure to
keep the ABV near 40%. Overproof whiskies can numb your tongue quickly if you’re not used to them. 

Bonded warehouse

Bonded warehouse (racked)

The bonded warehouse was invented as some
form of compromise between the early distillers who
still had fond memories of their smuggling days and
the British government that wanted to collect taxes.

If distillers had to pay duty on spirit as soon as it was
produced, they would have to wait for years before
they could earn back those costs by selling bottles
of mature whisky. Also, duties and tariffs are applied
to the alcohol in the whisky. While maturing inside the
cask, the angels take their angel’s share each year.

The Scottish distillers didn’t feel like paying for the
thirsty angels, so between filling a cask and the actual
bottling of the whisky, the casks are stored ‘in bond’.

While the casks remain in the bonded warehouse, the distillers don’t have to pay duty on the alcohol yet.

Bourbon whiskey

One specific whisky type is ‘Bourbon whiskey’ - made in the USA. The exact rules for production vary
between counties and states; the only requirement they all share is that they have to be made in the USA.
I’ve sampled quite a few bourbons over the years, but most were tasted during the 1980s. My experiences
at the time didn’t inspire me to look any deeper - especially after I discovered single malt whisky.


The ‘bouquet’ of a malt whisky is a unique combination of aromas and fragrances. Part of it reaches your
nose directly from the glass while another part is detected indirectly through the back door. The bouquet
can change over time - and depending on the temperature and the amount of water that is added.
In fact, you’re missing out on part of the adventure if you don’t add some water in different stages.


Before the whisky industry became as concentrated as it is now, whisky brokers still had a purpose in life.
They did the trading in casks before distillers, bottlers and whisky clubs found out they did not need them.
These days bottles of Scotch whisky manage to find their way to the comsumers just fine...


The Brown-Forman drinks conglomerate from the USA focused mostly on North-American brands
before they acquired the Benriach Distillery Company and its 3 Scotch malt whisky distilleries in 2016.

BFYB - Bang For Your Buck

Bang for your buck

The abbreviation ‘BFYB’ stands for ‘Bang For Your Buck’ - so that’s
the quality/price ratio of a whisky. There are two elements in that ratio,
and one of them is vague - quality is in the eye of the beholder...

The basis of my personal whisky rating system is quite simple.
I just try to translate the amount of fun my nose and tongue are having
with a whisky into a digit on a 1-to-100 scale. The whisky that I like the
best gets the highest score. So, why aren't my shelves filled with bottles
of Yamazaki 1979, Laphroaig 31yo and Glenfarclas 1969?

Many categories of whisk(e)y have grown more expensive as a whole over
the last two decades. There are no ‘sweet spots’ left among (for example)
Japanese whiskies, but fortunately there are plenty of alternatives.
The chapter about shopping for whisky goes deeper into this topic.

Probably because I’m Dutch - and therefor a little ‘Calvinistic’.
If I have to spend a day’s wages or more on a botle of whisky, there are
definitely more worthy ways of spending that money. Instead, I tend to look
for a ‘sweet spot’ - a nice whisky that’s affordable on a part-time salary.

Do you know of a ‘B’ word, phrase or whisky brand I’ve missed?  Be a sport and let me know...
You can reach me through e-mail, Twitter or Facebook to help me make the Malt Madness site (a little) better.

Bere barley

So-called ‘Bere barley’ (pronounced as ‘bear’) is an ancient barley variety that has been cultivated in
Britain for at least a millennium. The race is thought to have been brought to Britain by the Saxons or
Vikings. It can be grown during the short summers in the North, but the yields are relatively low.

Bloodtub / Bocoy

Two fairly obscure cask types are the bloodtub (34-40 litres) and the bocoy (600-800 litres).
The bloodtub is a traditional British cask size. Its shape was oval so it could be moved on horseback.
Meanwhile, the word ‘bocoy’ is often used in Spain to describe fairly large ‘hogshead’ type casks.

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