History of Whiskey
It is possible that distillation was experienced by the Babylonians in Mesopotamia in the 2nd millennium BC, with perfumes and aromatics being distilled, but this is theme to uncertain and disputable elucidation of evidence. The original certain chemical distillations were by Greeks in Alexandria in about the 3rd century (AD), but these were not distillations of alcohol. The medieval Arabs implemented the distillation practice of the Alexandrian Greeks, and written records in Arabic start in the 9th century, but again these were not distillations of alcohol. Distilling technology agreed from the medieval Arabs to the medieval Latins, with the earliest records in Latin in the early 12th century. The earliest records of the refinement of alcohol are in Italy in the 13th century, where alcohol was distilled from wine.An early description of the method was given by Ramon Llull (1232 ? 1315).Its use spread through medieval monasteries, mainly for medicinal purposes, such as the treatment of colic and smallpox.
The art of distillation extend to Scotland and Ireland no after the 15th century, as did the common European practice of distilling ?Aqua Vitae? or spirit alcohol mainly for medicinal reason. The practice of medicinal distillation eventually passed from a monastic setting to the secular through professional medical practitioners of the time, The Guild of Surgeon Barbers. In the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise in 1405, the first written record of whisky features the death of a chief to “taking a surfeit of aqua vitae” at Christmas. In Scotland, the first proof 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”, sufficient to make about 500 bottles.James IV of Scotland (r. 1488?1513) reportedly had an enormous liking for Scotch whisky, and in 1506 the town of Dundee acquired a large amount of whisky from the Guild of Surgeon Barbers, which held the domination on production at the time. Between 1536 and 1541, King Henry VIII of England suspended the monasteries, sending their monks out into the general public. Whisky production moved out of a ascetic setting and into personal homes and farms as newly independent monks needed to find a way to earn money for themselves.The refinement process was still in its infancy; whisky itself was not permitted to age, and as a result tasted very raw and vicious compared to today?s versions. Renaissance-era whisky was also very powerful and not diluted. Over time whisky developed into a much smoother drink.With a license to distil Irish whiskey from 1608, the Old Bush mills Distillery in the north shore of Ireland is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world.In 1707, the Acts of Union fused England and Scotland, and thereafter taxes on it rose spectacularly.After the English Malt Tax of 1725, the majority of Scotland?s distillation was either shut down or enforced underground. Scotch whisky was concealed under altars, in coffins, and in any available space to avoid the governmental Excisemen. Scottish distillers, working out of homemade stills, took to distilling whisky at night when the darkness hid smoke from the stills. For this reason, the drink became identified as moonshine. At one point, it was estimated that over half of Scotland?s whisky yield was illegal.
In America, whisky was used as currency during the American Revolution. It also was a highly in demand sundry and when an additional excise tax was levied against it, the Whiskey uprising erupted in 1791.
In 1823, the UK passed the Excise Act, legalizing the distillation (for a fee), and this set a realistic end to the large-scale production of Scottish moonshine.
In 1831, Aeneas Coffey patented the Coffey still, allowing for cheaper and more proficient distillation of whisky. In 1850, Andrew Usher began producing a blended whisky that mixed customary pot still whisky with that from the new Coffey still. The new distillation process was scoffed at by some Irish distillers, who stick to their traditional pot stills. Many Irish contended that the new product was, in fact, not whisky at all.
By the 1880s, the French brandy industry was overwhelmed by the phylloxera pest that bankrupts much of the grape crop; as a result, whisky became the primary liquor in many markets.
During the exclusion era in the United States lasting from 1920 to 1933, all alcohol sales were banned in the country. The federal government made a discharge for whisky approved by a doctor and sold through licensed pharmacies. During this time, the Walgreens pharmacy chain grew from 20 retail stores to almost 400.