The Origins of Whisky


Where did the tradition of making whiskey in Scotland begin? The exact history of distilling liquor from Scotland is not known with any precision. What we do know is that the island was among the first European countries to produce whiskey. Some historians say that it may have been brought to Scotland by English knights in the middle ages. Regardless of when it was started, the tradition of making Scotland’s favourite drink has remained the same for hundreds of years.

So how old is Scotch whisky really? Estimates range from just a few hundred years to around three thousand years. No one is exactly sure where the process started but it is believed to be back during the middle ages. The distillation of Scotch mingles rye and barley which was the only grains that the Scottish people had at that time. In order to make the best-tasting whiskey, the yeasts that are used must be able to ferment without being contaminated by other types of organisms.

How is the making of this popular drink different today compared to how it was created so many centuries ago? For starters, the fermentation process has been modernized. No longer do distillers have to use wood as their fermenting unit, nor does the unit have to be in a wooden pot. Modern stainless steel units are much more efficient and can create a high-quality finish.

Another difference between Scottish and Irish origins of whisky is the method of ageing the liquid. Most scotch that is available on the market today is aged in barrels made of hickory or oak. The Irish whiskey is not aged using these particular kinds of barrels. Many argue that this is the hallmark of the quality of this whiskey. Irish also tends to be less diluted as well.

If you’re looking for the best available liquor from the Scotch Islands, then you will want to make your selections carefully. There is a great deal of information available on the Internet, but it can be challenging to sort through all the facts and learn which distilleries are actually on Scotland’s shores. Fortunately, there are some guides that can help with this process. A quick search on the Internet should reveal the best places in the area. Many of these guides can even offer you tours of distilleries as well as helpful advice on learning about the origins of whiskey in Scotland and the historic whiskey traditions that helped create the drink.

You may be surprised to learn that the origins of whiskey in Scotland can be traced to the dawn of the British Empire. The Scottish crown began using what was called the “pitchcocks” in their distilling efforts. These pitchforks were actually cockles, hence the name, and these cockles provided a medium for the important maturation of whiskey. Distilling worked in a similar fashion, but in America, the process was simply called “carling.”