A Brief History of Whiskey
Brief History of Whiskey
Originally whiskey was very different to the refined spirits we have today. It had an almost soupy consistency with a strong smoky flavor from the peat used in the fires to dry the malt. Early stories go back to the sixth century AD, but the first records in Scotland are dated 1494 and refer to malt being used by a Friar to make 'aquavitae' (the water of life).
In the highlands it was drank regularly throughout the day - much as we take a coffee/tea break. The whiskey was not produced in quantity at the time, but rather it was home made only as needed by the family. Soon, however, some industrious farmers were starting to make extra in order to supplicate their income.
How Whiskey is Made
Whiskey is a grain spirit based on barley. The barley is steeped (soaked) in water for 2 or 3 days and then spread out on the floor to dry, the floor being
called the maltings floor. This drying process is helped by the use of heat from fires burning peat and the smoke from these fires is important as it gives
the aroma and flavor which carries over to the final distilled whiskey.
The dried malt is ground into 'grist' (as it's called) and mixed with hot water resulting in a sugary liquid that they call 'wort'. This is the stage where
the qualities of the pure water from highland streams contribute to the quality of the final product. The liquid is allowed to ferment for a couple of
After this the liquid is distilled twice. The spirit is aged in oak casks for a minimum of 3 years ... and up to 20 years or more. The aging mellows the
whiskey and it takes up the flavors and aromas of the cask.