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Winter Whiskey Wrap-up


Still wondering if you picked the right Scotch for Uncle Frank? Or did you end up picking a Bourbon? Can't remember which he drinks or if there's even a difference? Grab a bottle, raise a glass, and let's sip our way through the whiskey labyrinth.

First off, some basics: whiskey (we also accept the spelling whisky) is a specifically defined, yet broadly inclusive type of spirit. Much like how vodka is a spirit with many styles and flavors, whiskey is a category that has its own subcategories, AND, much like wine, these groups tend to get classified based on geography and ingredients. Popular styles like Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Bourbon Whiskey, and Rye Whiskey are all just different types of whiskey, each with their own sub-types… take a sip, because the rabbit hole goes deeper.

So what makes a whiskey a whiskey and not a vodka or a gin? This is where ingredients and process come in. When we ferment grape juice, it's called wine. Fermenting grain and then distilling it gives us whiskey. Finished products are typically at least 40 percent alcohol by volume (water is added to proof spirits down to desired levels) and are often aged in barrels to turn them from clear (think moonshine) to that nice amber brown.

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There's a lot of different rules and regulations for each classification, so to make sure this is a simple breakdown, let's stick with some of these popular styles and look at the most basic definitions. Simply put, Scotch Whisky is from Scotland and Irish Whiskey is from Ireland. That's it. Have another sip. But there's also the whole Single Malt method, which is a highly sought after version of whiskey. This is simultaneously slightly confusing and pretty straightforward: whiskies made at only one single distillery and made only from barley malt. (Single distillery, malted barley, Single Malt). The implication here is that there are a number of products made by blending whiskies from multiple distilleries which were distilled from other grains. Is this such a bad thing? Not really, it's just another way of doing things.

People like the idea of one distillery making the product for the sake of purity and presumed quality control, but most single distillery products are themselves blends of whiskies that have been aging in separate barrels. A true whiskey purist should look for the almost non-existent 'single-distillery, single-barrel, cask-strength (not proofed), unfiltered, grain-to-glass (grows own ingredients)' whiskey. And should expect to take out a mortgage to pay for it.

Multiple ingredients can also be a great thing. For instance, as a grain, rye makes notably earthy and spicy whiskies. So depending on how much is used, different flavor combinations and intensities can be achieved. To be a true American Rye whiskey, you need at least 51% rye in the grain mash (the batch of grain to be fermented); the rest can be barley, corn, and wheat. Similarly, when using the typically sweeter Corn as the majority grain, you get Bourbon (and no, it doesn't have to be from Bourbon County, Kentucky).

It gets even weirder when you start talking about aging whiskey. Those American whiskey styles must be aged in new, charred-oak barrels (to maximize fresh oak flavor), and would be labeled as generic whiskey if not. Those once-used Bourbon barrels usually get shipped off for Scotch to be aged in (cheers to collaboration). When you see "straight" whiskey, that's just code for it having been aged for at least 2 years. Where the designations like "12 year" refer to the age of the youngest barrel used in the blend.

Believe it or not, that's just a rough look at the basics. Take one more sip, try to process it all, and then remember it all barely matters as long you drink what you enjoy!

For a quick taste of different styles, check out these offerings from Westfield's home for artisanal spirits:

NosVino, 127 Central Ave, Westfield.

Whiskey Styles

Visit for more great options, plus details about free tastings and events!

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Update: Driver Escapes Icy River After Car Goes Off GSP Near Clark/Cranford Border

March 21, 2018

This story was updated at 11:40 a.m. Thursday.

CLARK, NJ — A car went off the road and into the river on the northbound Garden State Parkway between the Clark and Cranford exits during Wednesday night’s snow storm.

According to Clark’s chief of police, Pedro Matos, the car’s driver managed to escape the water — divers went into the river and determined the car ...

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on March 19

March 22, 2018

Following the board announcements, I noted the increased police presence at each of our ten schools, thanking the town and police department for their efforts.  I also noted that we’ve been working on updating our crisis communication plan in light of today’s climate of instant communication.

Board president Gretchan Ohlig thanked the mayor and police chief for working with ...

Upcoming Events


Fri, March 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM


March for Our Lives - Westfield

Government Law & Justice

Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Burent Middle School , Union

Union County Wide - March for Our Lives

Government Law & Justice

Westfield Police Blotter: More Than $2K Worth of Items Reported Stolen from Business, & More

March 21, 2018

March 11, 2018 6:42 p.m.

Marion Bethea, age 56, of Roselle, was arrested on the strength of an outstanding warrant for her arrest from Columbia Municipal Court in the amount of $500 pursuant to a motor vehicle stop. Subject was processed and released on recognizance.


March 16, 2018 11:16 a.m.

Blas Barquin, age 34, of Cranford, NJ, was arrested on the strength of an outstanding ...

Enjoy 5 Engaging Films at the Spring Jewish Film Festival of Central NJ

March 22, 2018

The Jewish Film Festival of Central NJ is pleased to present five films this spring at the Rialto NewVision Theater, 250 East Broad Street in Westfield. Screenings begin April 10 and run through May 7. All films start at 7:30 p.m.

We begin the spring series with The Testament on Tuesday, April 10. In The Testament, an uncompromising Holocaust researcher uncovers highly classified evidence that ...

Staying On Top

Some people are bulldozers. They move mountains, conquer countries, achieve the seemingly impossible. But then when there are no more mountains to climb, they falter. Routines, maintenance and sustainability are not their strong points. They respond to excitement and challenge, not to the uneventful, monotonous daily grind.

The title word of this week's Parshah, Tzav, means ...

White Standard Poodle Missing from 700 Block of Belvidere Ave. in Plainfield

A Plainfield neighbor in the 700 block of Belvidere Ave. is missing Chanel, her standard white poodle, who ran out the door and was last seen near Leland and Cushing avenues toward Union County College on Wednesday evening.

Chanel is not wearing a collar or tags, and is not micro-chipped.  She has been recently groomed and weighs about 36 pounds.  She is friendly, but may not come if ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

Can I Change My Partner?

March 21, 2018

Couples oftentimes look to change the “other.” “If only” the other would make these changes, or do as I say, our relationship would be great. We tend to focus on the other. We tend to focus on changing the other. We tend to focus on the other’s negative behavior. Couples like to report what their spouse/partner is doing and how they are ...

16 Homes Sold Last Week in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Sixteen homes sold last week, March 11 to March 18, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside and Cranford:*


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Charitable Spirit Alive and Well in Westfield Public Schools

Students, staff and parents in Westfield Public Schools continue the district’s long tradition of helping others both in and outside of the community, with a number of students recently recognized for their efforts.

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AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


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Suspended Hillsborough HS Athletic Director Charged with Theft

March 19, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ — Suspended Hillsborough High School Athletic Director Michael Fanizzi has been arrested and charged with the theft of $10,704 in athletic event receipts over a four-year period from 2013-2017, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Fanizzi, 53, a resident of Conover Way in Hillsborough who had been athletics director for 14 years, had been ...