Whiskey also spelled whisky is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage produced from fermented grain and aged in wooden barrels.
Whiskey is always aged in wooden barrels, usually of white oak.
Whiskey is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many classes and types. A spirit is any alcoholic beverage in which the alcohol content has been increased by distillation.
The main differences between types of whisky are down to three things: the grain used; the production process – where the whisky was made; and how long it was matured for.
The origin of whiskey began over 1000 year ago when distillation made the migration from mainland Europe into Scotland and Ireland via traveling monks. The Scottish and Irish monasteries, lacking the vineyards and grapes of the continent, turn to fermenting grain mash, resulting in the first distillations of modern whisky.
The earliest direct account of whiskey making is found in Scottish records dating from 1494.
From 1600 onwards as the European colonists began to arrive in America, they brought with them the practice of distilling whiskey. Many Scottish and Irish immigrants settled in their new territories, eventually beginning to distill their new types of grains and mash.
With a license to distill Irish whiskey from 1608, the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world.
In 1820, a certain Scottish grocer named John Walker began producing his own whisky, which would become one of the most famous and most widely distributed brands of Scotch whisky in the world. John Walker himself, was a teetotaler.
From 1920 to 1933, the American Prohibition era banned all production, sale, and use of alcohol. However, the federal government made an exception: the prescription of medicinal whiskey from a doctor, to be sold through a licensed pharmacy.
The word whiskey (or whisky) is an anglicisation of the Classical Gaelic word uisce (or uisge) meaning “water” (now written as uisce in Irish Gaelic, and uisge in Scottish Gaelic).
Whether it is whiskey or whisky has been the basis of many arguments over many years. This difference in the spelling comes from the translations of the word from the Scottish and Irish Gaelic forms. The spelling whiskey is common in Ireland and the United States, while whisky is used in all other whisky producing countries.
Whiskey is beer that’s been distilled two or three times. To distill whiskey, you first have to make beer. Beer is a technical term for whiskey wash, regardless of the type of raw ingredients used.
When whiskey comes off the stills it’s perfectly clear –the dark color comes from the white oak in which it’s aged. According to Chris Fletcher, Assistant Master Distiller at Jack Daniels, a barrel provides whiskey with 60 percent of its flavor and 100 percent of its color.
Angel’s share is the name given to the alcohol that evaporates from a cask as the whiskey is maturing in a warehouse. In Scotland and Ireland, this is approximately 2% of the contents of each cask each year, although this amount is higher in other countries with warmer climates.
The age on a bottle of whiskey refers to the number of years it was stored in the barrels before bottling. A whiskey stops maturing once it is bottled.
Most whiskies are sold at or near an alcoholic strength of 40% abv – although the strength can vary, and cask-strength whisky may have as much as twice that alcohol percentage.
Single Malt Whisky comes from a single distillery and a single grain. However, it is possible that it underwent maturing in multiple casks.
Blended Whisky is called Blended Whisky because of the mixture of Grain Whisky and multiple Single Malt Whiskies.
A Scotch Whisky must be made from malted barley or grain with the spirit aged in oak casks no bigger than 700 litres for no less than three years. Whisky of one type or another is made all over the world, but to be called Scotch Whisky it must be made entirely in Scotland.
Irish whiskey is any whiskey made in Eire (Republic of Ireland) or in Northern Ireland. Unlike Scotch, any malted cereal grains can be used in any proportion. Like Scotch, it must be aged in wooden casks for a minimum of three years.
Bourbon is an American whiskey made from malted grains that are at minimum 51% corn. The rules around what constitutes a bourbon are more relaxed than those for Scotch, but it must be made entirely within the United States to qualify.
Top 5 Best Selling Whiskey Brands in the World are:
1. Jack Daniel’s
2. Johnnie Walker
3. Chivas Regal
The most expensive whiskey sold at auction is $628,000 (£380,168), for the 6-litre Macallan M Decanter-Constantine and was sold at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, China, on 23 January 2014. The 6 litre (1.32 UK Gal; 1.59 US Gal) Macallan M decanter stands at 70 cm (28 inches) tall and weighing 11.3 kg empty and 16.8 kg once filled.
The Original Isabella Islay Whiskey is the ultimate combination of the art of the jeweller, the hand of the craftsmen and the skill of the whiskey maker. Costing $6.2 million it comes with 8,500 diamonds, almost 300 rubies and two bars of white gold all covering an English Crystal decanter and the Very Old Single Malt cask strength Islay whisky inside. Isabella’s Islay is the epitome of luxury Scotch whiskey, and even without a diamond and jewel encrusted bottle it costs a ton of money on its own.
There is a great debate over whether dropping an ice cube in your whiskey will disrupt its flavor, but most distillers agree that you should enjoy the spirit however you prefer. Although some experts recommend enjoying whiskey at room temperature as cooling it numbs the flavors slightly.
Nikola Tesla drank whiskey every day. If anything Tesla was a workaholic, not an alcoholic. Yet he drank whiskey every day, while he labeled tea and coffee as unhealthy stimulants. Tesla was also practically a vegetarian and he did not smoke. He thought whiskey would make him live longer.
Employees who work at Jack Daniels get a free bottle of Jack Daniels with their paychecks on the first Friday of every month.
Per capita the leading whiskey drinkers in the world are the French, followed by Uruguay and the USA!
India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of whiskey. However, distilled alcoholic beverages that are labelled as “whisky” in India are commonly blends based on neutral spirits that are distilled from fermented molasses with only a small portion consisting of traditional malt whisky, usually about 10 to 12 percent.
Whisky production represents second largest “money-making” industry in Scotland. On average, 34 bottles of whisky are exported from Scotland every second.
Whiskey is the official state beverage of Alabama.