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The Amazing History of Whisky

April 15 ,2022

There has been an epic soft battle in history to manufacture and sell the happy liquid- Whisky. While you may be familiar with popular whisky brands such as Chivas and Royal Stag, the history of Whiskey will astound and amaze you. When researching the world's history of whisky, the word Ishkaba (originally spelled as UISGE BEATHA) appears. Ishkaba was called water of life. Ishkaba then became Ishka and finally Whisky in the early 1600s. Besides this fact, there is an approximate timeline of whisky's history and evolution across many countries. 


With this blog you will be familiar with the history of whisky and some fun facts too.

Let's get started!!!

Ancient Era(Before 1000 AD) to Modern (1500 to 1600 AD)

The history of whisky production goes way back to ancient Mesopotamia (the modern-day equivalent is an area covering parts of Iraq and Syria, where alcohol is forbidden now). Back then, people there used the distillation process to produce perfumes and aromatics. Fun fact, the word alcohol actually comes from the Arabic word " Al-Kaul," meaning body entering spirit. Due to various circumstances, a mass from this region moved to central Europe. They started making distilled beverage called "Aqua vitae." Another surprising thing is that aqua vitae was produced by Monks.

Around 1494, the distillation of whisky in Scotland began in earnest. King James IV of Scotland granted a large amount of malt “to Friar John Cor, by order of the king, to make aqua vitae.” Later, in the early 1500s, King Henry VIII of England dissolved the monasteries, leaving a large number of monks independent and looking for new ways to make a living. Distillation was the answer. This eventually resulted in the production of whisky being shifted to the general public.

Dispute to claim the origin

As Aqua Vitae started flourishing in Europe, there was a dispute happening, especially in Ireland and Scotland. An Irish story says that in 1405, a lunatic drank some weird liquid, became crazy, and eventually died. Later in 1608, the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland got the license of being the first strong whiskey distillery in the world. The other hand, the Scottish story says that in 1894 the king gave 8 bowls of malts to make aqua vitae. One can get their own idea on which country holds the true history of whisky’s origin.

Fun Fact

The popular phrase "Calling for Shot" has a connection with alcohol because, in traditional whisky production, the first few shots are poisonous, and the last few shots are weak, implying that only the middle part is fit to be called alcohol. And the only way to determine whether the distilled portion is actually alcohol is to burn the liquid. This daring act was hence termed "Calling for Shots."

Bringing Whisky Tradition to America

When European colonists first arrived in America, they brought with them the practice of distilling whiskey. Many Scottish and Irish immigrants settled in their new territories, eventually beginning to distill their new types of grains and mash. Initially, such distilleries were established in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Later, people moved to the west side, to Tennessee and Kentucky. The abundance of pure water and corn led them to produce Bourbon.

Canadian and Asian Whisky History

Because rye is abundant in Canada, Canadian whiskies have a higher rye content. Japanese and Indian whisky are included in the Asian whisky category. The Japanese whiskey, particularly "Centauri," became popular as a result of Bill Murray's film "Lost in Translation." In his book "The Whisky Bible," another Murray, Jim Murray, named Yamazaki Sherry Cask as the best whisky brand of the world. 

The tradition of whiskey was brought to India by the British in the 1900s. They also built distilleries. The whiskies were delivered in casks rather than bottles. Since then, the Indian whisky industry has grown tremendously, producing some of the world's best malt whiskies.

Present Market of Whisky in World

According to the most recent studies on whisky market size and up-to-date analysis on the current global market scenario, the whiskey market is expected to grow by $ 28.67 billion between 2021 and 2025. It is expected that the emerging online distribution platform will be one of the primary factors driving the whiskey market growth in the coming years.


For more: How to Pair Up Cigar and Whisky?