National Whisky Day.
National Whisky Day is taking place on 21st May, this occasion is celebrated by whisky lovers worldwide. To help you celebrate this day in ease we have summed up the history of whisky and included some quick serves for this weekend.
The term ‘whisky’ derives originally from the Gaelic ‘uisge beatha’, or ‘usquebaugh’, meaning ‘water of life’.
Unsurprisingly, as whisky was involved, exact dates of the origins of whisky have been forgotten! The first written record of distilling was from 100 AD when an Ancient Greek philosopher wrote of the process of taking sea water and distilling it into pure drinking water. Civilisations evolved their techniques over the following centuries however still not venturing to alcohol. Once the process had spread to Europe it was used to create ingredients for both medicine and ceremonies.
The origin of whisky began over 1000 years ago when the process of distillation made its way across the world and into Ireland and Scotland via travelling monks. The monasteries, lacking the vineyards and grapes of the continent, turn to fermenting grain mash, resulting in the first distillations of modern whisky.
In 1405 the first written record of ‘whisky’ appears in Ireland where it was said the leader of a clan died ingesting an excessive amount of whisky at Christmas! As time passed the production of whisky and drinking of whisky spread to the wider population. From 1600 whisky made its way to America and as more Scottish and Irish immigrants settled into their new territories they began to distil new types of ‘grains and mash’. As whisky became more popular it was even used as currency during the American Revolution. In America and Ireland, it became commonly spelt as ‘whiskey’ which helps in identifying a particular whiskies origin as the two spellings remain to this day with Scottish and Canadian spelling it “whisky”.
Ireland is known for its love of whiskey and, in 1608, The Old Bushmills Distillery was licenced in Northern Ireland. It still stands today and holds the title of the oldest licensed distillery in the world.
Between 1707-1725 there was a threat to the production of whisky. In the years after the unification of England and Scotland, creating Great Britain, taxes rose dramatically. The expenses involved with the creation of whisky resulted in many going underground and starting production at night, this is where one of whisky’s finest and famous nicknames came from ‘moonshine’.
Whisky drinkers often battle over the best bottle, be it Irish, Scottish or Bourbon. It wasn’t until 1840 that a whisky product was labelled ‘Bourbon Whiskey’. The name was used to differentiate the product from other whisky as it was one of the first corn whiskies many people had come across.
Although throughout the years there have been many threats to the production of all alcohol, especially for the 13 years of the American Prohibition which banned all production, sale and use of alcohol, whisky stayed strong. The federal government made an exception; the prescription of medicinal whisky from a doctor to be sold through a licensed pharmacy!
The history of Japanese whisky began in 1854 when a US Commodore was sent to Japan to reverse its 220-Year-old policy of national isolation under the Tokugawa shogunate and to secure new trading routes. After the Japan- US Treaty of Peace and Amity they were invited to a gathering and this is where the Japanese guests first tried the water of life. Imports started flowing into Japan but these were expensive and in short demand, so with a gap in the market Japanese companies ventured to Scotland to understand the art of distilling first hand and start the journey of authentic Japanese whisky.
We serve some wonderful whiskies whether they are single malt or blends which you can enjoy as an after dinner tipple or, for something a little bit different, our incredible Old Fashioned cocktail made with Woodford Reserve. You’re truly spoilt for choice so we have shared with you below some of our favourites to either drink neat on the rocks or with your preferred mixer.
Glenfiddich 15 year old