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Whiskey

Nutritional Information

1 jigger, whiskey

  • Calories 105
  • Calories from Fat 0
  • Amount%DV
  • Total Fat 0g0%
  • Saturated Fat 0g0%
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
  • Cholestreol 0mg0%
  • Sodium 0mg0%
  • Potassium 1mg0%
  • Total Carbohydrate 0.04g0%
  • Dietary Fiber 0g0%
  • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 0g0%
  • Calcium 0mg0%
  • Iron 0mg0%
  • Vitamin A 0%
  • Vitamin C 0%

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Whiskey on Wikipedia:

For other uses, see Whisky (disambiguation). A glass of whisky

Whisky or whiskey is a type of alcoholic beverage distilled from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn). Most whiskies are aged in wooden casks, made generally of oak, the exception being some corn liquors.

Whisky is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many competing denominations of origin and many classes and types. The unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, and the practice of distilling the spirit down to a maximum of 80% alcohol for corn and 90% alcohol for other grains, prior to adding water, so as to retain some of the flavor of the grain used to make the spirit and prevent it from being classified as grain neutral spirits or vodka.[1] Whisky gains as much as 60% of its flavor from the type of cask used in its aging process.[citation needed] Therefore further classification takes place based upon the type of wood used and the amount of charring or toasting done to the wood.[2] Bourbon whiskey for example is legally required to be aged in charred new oak barrels, whereas quality Scotch whiskies often used the partially spent barrels from Bourbon production to induce a slower maturation time.[3]

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Etymology

Whisky is a shortened form of usquebaugh, which English borrowed from Gaelic (Irish uisce beatha and Scottish uisge beatha). This compound descends from Old Irish uisce, ``water``, and bethad, ``of life`` and meaning literally ``water of life``. It meant the same thing as the Latin aqua vītae which had been applied to distilled drinks since early 14th century. Other early spellings include usquebea (1706) and iskie bae (1583). In the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise in 1405, the first written record of whisky appears describing the death of a chieftain at Christmas from ``taking a surfeit of aqua vitae``. In Scotland, the first evidence of whisky production comes from an entry in the Exchequer Rolls for 1494 where malt is sent ``To Friar John Cor, by order of the king, to make aquavitae``.[4]

History

The art of distillation began in Asia, with perfumes and aromatics being distilled long before potable spirits, although there is evidence that the early Chinese distilled liquor from rice. It is possible that the art of distillation was brought from the Mediterranean regions to Ireland by Irish missionaries between the 6th century and 7th century. Distillation was brought from Africa to Europe by the Moors,[5][6] and its use spread through the monasteries,[7] largely for medicinal purposes, such as the treatment of colic, palsy, and smallpox.[8]

Between 1100 and 1300, distillation spread to Ireland and Scotland,[9] with monastic distilleries existing in Ireland in the 12th century. Since Britain had few grapes with which to make wine, barley beer was used instead, resulting in the development of whisky.[8] In 1494, as noted above, Scotland’s Exchequer granted the malt to Friar John Cor; this was enough malt to make about 1500 bottles, so the business was apparently thriving by that time.

King James IV of Scotland (r. 1488-1513) reportedly had a great liking for Scotch whisky, and in 1506 the town of Dundee purchased a large amount of Scotch from the Guild of Surgeon Barbers, which held the monopoly on production at the time. Between 1536 and 1541, King Henry VIII of England dissolved the monasteries, sending their monks out into the general public. Whisky production moved out of a monastic setting and into personal homes and farms as newly-independent monks needed to find a way to earn money for themselves.[8]

The distillation process at the time was still in its infancy; whisky itself was imbibed at a very young age, and as a result tasted very raw and brutal compared to today’s versions. Renaissance-era whisky was also very potent and not diluted, and could even be dangerous at times. Over time, and with the happy accident of someone daring to drink a bottle which had been forgotten for several years, whisky evolved into a much smoother drink. [10]

In 1707, the Acts of Union merged England and Scotland, and thereafter taxes on it rose dramatically.[10]

After the English Malt Tax of 1725, most of Scotland’s distillation was either shut down or forced underground. Scotch whisky was hidden under altars, in coffins, and in any available space to avoid the governmental Excisemen.[8] Scottish distillers, operating out of homemade stills, took to distilling their whisky at night, where the darkness would hide the smoke rising from the stills. For this reason, the drink was known as moonshine.[11] At one point, it was estimated that over half of Scotland’s whisky output was illegal.[10]

In America, whisky was used as currency during the American Revolution. It also was a highly coveted sundry and when an additional excise tax was levied against it, the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion took place.[12]

In 1823, the UK passed the Excise Act, legalizing the distillation (for a fee), and this put a practical end to the large-scale production of Scottish moonshine.[8]

In 1831, Aeneas Coffey invented the Coffey still, allowing for cheaper and more efficient distillation of whisky. In 1850, Andrew Usher mixed traditional whisky with that from the new Coffey still, and in doing so created the first Scottish blended whisky. This new grain whisky was scoffed at by Irish distillers, who clung to their malt whisky. Many Irish contended that the new mixture was, in fact, not whisky at all.[5]

By the 1880s, the French brandy industry was devastated by the phylloxera pest that ruined much of the grape crop; as a result, whisky became the primary liquor in many markets.[8]

Types

Copper Pot stills at Auchentoshan Distillery in Scotland

Whisky or whisky-like products are produced in most grain-growing areas. They differ in base product, alcoholic content, and quality.

Malted barley is an ingredient of some whiskies. Malt is whisky made entirely from malted barley and distilled in an onion-shaped pot still. Grain is made from malted and unmalted barley along with other grains, usually in a continuous ``patent`` or ``Coffey`` still. Until recently it was only used in blends, but there are now some single grain scotches being marketed.

Malts and grains are combined in various ways

Vatted malt is blended from malt whiskies from different distilleries. If a whisky is labelled ``pure malt`` or just ``malt`` it is almost certain to be a vatted whisky. This is also sometimes labelled as ``blended malt`` whisky. Single malt whisky is malt whisky from a single distillery. However, unless the whisky is described as ``single-cask`` it will contain whisky from many casks, and different years, so the blender can achieve a taste recognisable as typical of the distillery. In most cases, the name of a single malt will be that of the distillery (The Glenlivet, Bushmills, Yoichi), with an age statement and perhaps some indication of some special treatments such as maturation in a port wine cask. Pure pot still whiskey refers to a whiskey distilled in a pot-still (like single malt) from a mash of mixed malted and unmalted barley. It is exclusive to Ireland. Blended whiskies are made from a mixture of malt and grain whiskies. A whisky simply described as Scotch Whisky or Irish Whiskey is most likely to be a blend in this sense. A blend is usually from many distilleries so that the blender can produce a flavour consistent with the brand, and the brand name (e.g., Chivas Regal, Canadian Club) will usually not therefore contain the name of a distillery. Jameson Irish Whiskey is an exception and comes from only one distillery. However, ``blend`` can (less frequently) have other meanings. A mixture of malts (with no grain) from different distilleries (more usually called a vatted malt) may sometimes be referred to as a ``blended malt``, and a mixture of grain whiskies with no malts will sometimes carry the designation ``blended grain``. Cask strength whiskies are rare and usually only the very best whiskies are bottled in this way. They are usually bottled from the cask undiluted. Rather than diluting, the distiller is inviting the drinker to dilute to the level of potency most palatable (often no dilution is necessary, such is the quality of single cask whiskies). Single cask whiskies are usually bottled by specialist independent bottlers, such as Duncan Taylor, Master of Malt, Gordon & MacPhail and Cadenhead amongst others.

Whiskies do not mature in the bottle, only in the cask, so the ``age`` of a whisky is the time between distillation and bottling. This reflects how much the cask has interacted with the whisky, changing its chemical makeup and taste. Whiskies which have been in bottle for many years may have a rarity value, but are not ``older`` and will not necessarily be ``better`` than a more recently made whisky matured in wood for a similar time. Most whiskies are sold at or near an alcoholic strength of 40% abv.

American whiskeys

Main article: American whiskey

American whiskey is distilled from a fermented mash of cereal grain. It must have the taste, aroma, and other characteristics commonly attributed to whiskey.

The most common types listed in the federal regulations[13] are:

Bourbon whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% corn (maize). Rye whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% rye. Corn whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 80% corn (maize). Straight whiskey, (without naming a grain) is a whiskey which has been aged in charred new oak containers for 2 years or more and distilled at not more than 80 percent alcohol by volume but is derived from less than 51% of any one grain.

The ``named types`` of American whiskey must be distilled to not more than 80 percent alcohol by volume. ``Named types`` must then be aged in charred new oak containers, excepting corn whiskey. Corn whiskey does not have to be aged but, if it is aged, it must be in new un-charred oak barrels or used barrels. The aging for corn whiskey usually is brief, e.g., six months.

If the aging for a ``named type`` reaches 2 years or beyond, the whiskey is then additionally designated ``straight`` e.g., ``straight rye whiskey``. ``Straight whiskey`` (without naming a grain) is a whiskey which has been aged in charred new oak containers for 2 years or more and distilled at not more than 80 percent alcohol by volume but is derived from less than 51% of any one grain.

American blended whiskeys combine straight whiskey with un-aged whiskey, grain neutral spirits, flavorings and colorings.

Important in the marketplace is Tennessee whiskey, of which