“Whiskey is by far the most popular of all remedies that won’t cure a cold.” -Jerry Vale
Whisky is commonly spelt with and without an E, whisky or whiskey. Whisky is a very popular form of liquor with its own “sub categories” of liquors.
It is made from a fermented mash of grain, usually corn, rye, barley, or wheat. The fermented mash is then distilled and aged in oak barrels.
How To Drink Whisky
Whisky is enjoyed in a variety of ways. The most common ways it is served are straight, on the rocks, and in a variety of cocktails.
History of Whisky
The process of distillation spread to Scotland and Ireland around the 13th century. Whisky was often referred to then as “aqua vitae” (akwa vahy-tee) which means “water of life”. At the time aqua vitae was primarily used as medicine. It was used as a painkiller, an antibiotic for external injuries, and just general medicinal purposes such as a sleeping aid, and upset stomachs.
Alcohol’s history as medicine spans a long time. In fact, doctors were allowed to prescribe whisky during the prohibition. This was one of the few ways you could legally attain alcohol at the time.
In 1707 England and Scotland merged after the Acts of Union were passed. The Acts unified England and Scotland into a single, united kingdom named “Great Britain”. After the unification things got hard for the Scotland distillers when the English Malt Tax was passed in 1725.
Most of Scotland’s distillers either shut down or started making liquor in homemade distilleries.
This was an illegal underground operation which lent to them making alcohol at night so the darkness could hide the smoke coming from the stills.
It’s because of this that they gave the drink the name “moonshine” which, as you probably know, is still a term used even today.
Whisky also has a storied history in America. During the American Revolutionary War whisky was commonly used as a form of currency. On March 3, 1791 Congress passed a federal tax on whisky in an effort to pay for some of the debts gained from the Revolutionary War.
This tax lead to one of the most important events in the United States’ early history, The Whiskey Rebellion.
Most Americans at the time were against taxation but many Pennsylvania farmers turned hostile as a result of the tax because they felt it was an assault on their frontier way of life.
It was difficult for the farmers to transport grain crops over the mountainous terrain in order to sell their goods in the Eastern markets. Because of this many farmers converted their grain to whisky. Tension between the farmers and the government grew and on August 1, 1794 a group of farmers burned down a government official’s house.
President Washington knew the growing rebellion was detrimental to the newly established country so he sent 13,000 troops to Pennsylvania in order to stop the rebellion. The rebellion officially ended on November 13, 1794 after approximately 150 farmers were arrested. The tax on whisky was not lifted until 1801.
How Whisky is Made
Whisky is made from a fermented mash of grain. The most common types of grain used to make whisky are corn, rye, barley, or wheat. The ground grain is mixed with hot water to make the mash. The water usually comes from a local source, this is why many distilleries are found next to a river or some other body of water.
The process of making whisky is very similar to making beer. The difference being that whisky is distilled and beer is not.
After the mash is made yeast is added in order to start the fermentation process. After fermentation the resulting substance is basically beer. From there the distillation process begins in order to turn it into whisky. After the whisky is distilled it is then aged in barrels. The aging process gives the whisky its amber color and also adds aroma and flavor. After the whisky is fully aged it is then bottled and ready to enjoy.