Whisky | www.drinks.ng

Whisky is one of the most premium spirit drinks distilled from grain mash, and has gained popularity in the last 10-15 years.

Traditionally aged in  wooden casks, whiskey is heralded as the “brown spirit for daddy on Father’s Day”.

However, with the existing spelling difference, most people cannot tell their “whiskey” from their “whisky”, neither can some tell what makes their special whiskey blend.

When you truly love a drink, it is necessary to know much about it that you sound smart whenever you talk about it.

History of Whisky

The evolution of distillation coincides with the history of the fine alcoholic beverage called whiskey. From ancient Babylonia and Mesopotamia, the art of distillation was practiced, mainly for the production of perfumes and aromas.

With the introduction of distillation to Europe, it was used for medicinal purposes. Then the art found its way behind the walls of Christian Monastries who distilled alcoholic beverages that were used is several of their religious ceremonies.

It is generally believed that distillation came to the areas of Ireland and Scotland between 11th and 13th century with Christian monks. However, some records show that the Ancient Celts practiced distillation during the production of their “uisgebeatha” or “aqua vitae” (water of life).

Through years of perfecting the method, and also owing to the scarcity of grapes, whisky grew popular in Northern Europe, with the Scots renowned for making it.

As at 1494 when the first written record of whisky appeared, production and consumption of the beverage in Scotland was already in high demand. Friar John Cor was said to have received “eight bolls of malt to make aqua vitae”, which was enough for the production of around 1500 bottles of whisky

Whisky became so popular that it became the favourite drink of James IV of Scotland. In 1506 it was on record that the town of Dundee bought a massive quantity of the liquor from the Guild of Barber Surgeons, which held the monopoly on production at the time.

Industrial production began when English King Henry VIII dissolved monasteries in Scotland between 1536 and 1541. The newly unemployed monks resorted to private production of whiskey in order to make ends meet.

The whisky produced at this time was harsh, as it was not allowed age before consumption. Contrary to what consumed today, whisky back then was undiluted and highly potent in alcohol volume.

When the thrones of Scotland and England merged, huge taxes were levied on unlicensed alcohol breweries. This led to the illegal production by Scottish distillers, who worked mostly at night leading to the drink being nicknamed “moonshine.”

Producing the beverage illegally also meant that the distribution had to be done away from the eyes of the law.  Whisky was smuggled through weirdly creative means which included coffins and through churches.

The huge tax, which led to the shortage of whisky, inadvertently affected the supply of whiskey in other parts of the world. In America for instance, during the American Revolution, whiskey was used as a legal tender.

When America imposed harsh taxes on the ingredients, production and sales of whisky, Us farm workers started a protest which was the famous “Whiskey Rebellion.”

The end of the struggle for whisky distillers came in 1823, when English government enacted a law that enabled legalization of whisky production.

This legalization (for a fee) led to the invention of “continuous still”,  brought by Robert Stein (and later patented by Aeneas Coffey). It led to the faster distillation of whisky.

By late 19th century, two major events led to the growing popularity of whisky. Scott Andrew Usher successfully produced and marketed blended whisky, making it one of the most successful alcoholic beverages in the world. That was followed by the unexpected spread of the pest Phylloxera which greatly reduced output of brandy and wines, turning whisky into the primary liquor for most markets the world over.

In 2009 Scottish brewers managed to export record breaking 1.1 billion bottles of whiskey, signifying the continuous popularity of whisky and its growing market.

How is Whisky made?

Whisky is made through distillation of fermented grain mash. The grains used may either be malted or un-malted and could be either barley, corn (maize), rye, or wheat.

Two types of stills are used in the distillation process of whisky. The most common is the pot still, which is made up of a single heated chamber and a vessel to collect purified alcohol. The other is the Column Still, used frequently in the distillation of grain whisky and are most commonly used in the production of bourbon and other American whiskeys.

Column stills work like series of single pot stills and can produce alcohol volume of up to 95.6%, whereas single pot stills yield 40–50% alcohol.

After distillation, whiskies are matured in casks, unlike wines which are aged in bottles. During this time, the casks interacts with the liquor, through six processes called extraction, evaporation, oxidation, concentration, filtration, and colouration. The chemical compound of the liquid changes along with the taste and flavour.

The whiskies are stored for a period of up to a decade or more before bottling. The bottles are usually labelled with the name of the distillery, the cask type, distillation and bottling date, and sometimes with the cask and bottle number.

The Difference between Malt and Grain Whisky

Malt whisky is made exclusively from fermented malted barley and distilled in pot stills. To be called a single malt whisky, then the product must have used malt whisky from just one distillery. It is primarily from Scotland.

Grain whiskey often combines basic ingredients from barley to corn to wheat to rye, and can be distilled using either a pot or column still. The grains may or may not be malted and when it is designated as a blended whiskey when more than one of the grains rather a single one is used.

However, blended malt scotch combines only single malts from different Scottish distilleries, creating an multiple-flavoured drink. It is different from blended scotch.

Categories of Whisky

American Bourbon

Bourbons are made in the American state of Kentucky and first produced in the 18th century. To qualify as bourbon, it legally must consist of 51% corn and be aged in virgin barrels at least 2yrs, and hovers between 80 and 101 proof. A great example of bourbon is the Wild Turkey.

Tennessee Whiskey

It bears no much difference from bourbon, only that it goes through what is called the Lincoln County Process, which involves dripping it through charcoal. A good example is the Jack Daniel’s range.

Rye Whiskey

A much dryer version of bourbon, the mash has to be more than half composed of rye for it to be called a rye whiskey. An example of rye whiskeys are the Jim Beam and Van Winkle Family Reserve.

Scotch Whisky

Scotch whiskey is a malt whiskey (though it can be grain) that is left to sit in a barrel for at least 3 years. Generally, they are distilled twice, although some go through multiple distillations of up to twenty times. According to regulations for a whiskey to be labelled as “Scotch”, it must be distilled in Scotland and matured for a minimum of three years in oak casks, among other, more specific criteria.

Great examples of Scotch whiskies include Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, other Glens and the Johnnie Walker Family.

Irish Whiskey

Irish Whiskey are usually distilled thrice and no peat is added to it, giving it an extra smooth feel to the palate. It’s usually blended, often single malt, and one of the most popular whiskies in the world. Some of the major brands include Jameson and Bushmills.

Canadian Whisky

Usually called “brown vodka” by whiskey snobs in the country, the drink is actually a blend of liquors based on corn and other grains, which makes it a lot lighter most of the time. Basically, to qualify, it must be fermented, distilled and aged in Canada.Good examples include Seagrams, Crown Royal (and its uber-Canadian maple flavor), Canadian Club, Canadian Mist, and Black Velvet.

Japanese Whisky

Japanese whiskey are close to Scotch, and not made from rice like widely believed. The whiskey has earned international recognition for its quality. The base is a mash of malted barley, dried in kilns fired with a little peat. Brilliant examples are Suntory and Nikka, which won prestigious international awards between 2007 and 2014.

Indian Whisky

India produces more whiskey than any other country, but because they are distilled mostly from molasses instead of grains, the European Union doesn’t recognize it as whiskey. Good examples are the Paul John family, Rampur and Amrut.

With the boom in global whiskey production, countries like South Africa, Australia, Taiwan, and some Scandinavian countries are making quality varieties of the drink. These countries do not, however, have strict regulation over the production methods, as such any grain and distillation process can be implemented.

Between Whiskey and Whisky

There is no much underneath the difference in spellings for one of the world’s most loved alcoholic beverages.

The Scots spell it whisky and the Irish spell it whisky, with an extra ‘e’. The difference in the spelling comes from the translations of the word from the Scottish and Irish Gaelic forms.

America also used the spelling with ‘e’ as Irish immigrants in the 1700s took their spelling style to the United States.

Whisky, without the e, is also the normal spelling of the word in Great Britain, Canada, and Japan, the plural of which is whiskies.

One tricky thing about the difference in spelling is that countries with “E’s” in their names, like the United States and Ireland spell it as whiskey; the countries without “E’s” in their names, like Scotland, Canada, and Japan, spell it as whisky.

Whisky Aging

Unlike cognac which uses age terms like VOP, VS, VSOP or XO, Whisky shows the exact age of its content: for example 3, 5, 10, 12 or 15 years.

What this means is that the content of each bottle of whisky has not been aged younger than the number written on it. For example a Glenfidich 18 bottle has been aged up to 18 years and above – not lower.

Most Popular Whiskies in Nigeria

In no particular order, below are some of the popular whisky brands in Nigeria:

Jack Daniel’s
Black Grouse Whisky
Famous Grouse Whisky
Wild Turkey 101 American Whiskey
Johnnie Walker
Dimple Scotch Whisky
J&B Rare Scotch
The Glenlivet
Best Classic
Ardbeg Gallileo

You can order here for your special bottle of whisky for under N10k and below.

Everything about the shayo called Whisky you should know
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Everything about the shayo called Whisky you should know
Whisky is one of the most premium spirit drinks distilled from grain mash, and has gained popularity in the last 10-15 years.
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