The Bottom Line: Quick facts about Whisky!
The Full Story:
- The oldest reference to the production of whisky is not in fact in Scotland, but in Ireland, where it is believed that monks began distilling spirits as far back as the fifth century. The first reference from Scotland is found in the Exchequer rolls, the accounting records for the royal finances in 1494, where an allowance was made for “eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae.
- The term “whisky” came from the Gaelic words uisage beatha, which came from the Latin Acqua Vitae or “water of life.”
- The first written mention of Scotch whisky is in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1495.
- Scotch whisky is always spelled without an “e” (as is whisky from Canada and Japan). Most other nations such as the United States, Australia and Ireland call their similar spirits whiskey. There are lots of theories as to why this is the case, most of which are disputed.
- A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed-age whisky.
- There are over 100 distilleries and five regions for the production of whisky in Scotland. There are a number of classifications of Scotch whisky, but the main ones are:
- Blended Whisky: This is a mix of grain whisky and malt whisky, and makes up the majority of Scotch that is consumed around the world.
- Single Grain Whisky: This is relatively rare and is made from non-malted grains such as corn.
- Blended Malt Whisky: This is also sometimes known as “Vatted Malts” or “Pure Malts” and is some of my favorite whisky. It is made from blends of a number of single malt whiskies from across Scotland.
- Single Malt Whisky: This is made, as the name suggests, from malted barley grains from a single distillery. They’re often sold with age statements (10/12/18 years, etc.), which means that they are a blend of single malts from the same distillery where the youngest whisky used is the age stated on the bottle, unless it is a single cask bottle where the whisky must all be from the same making.