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Monday, 20 December 2010

Ten things you (maybe) didn't know about whisky

1. Whisky is Scottish, but ‘Scotch’ is whisky. Whiskey with an ‘e’ is Irish while Bourbon is American whisky.

2. There is a dispute between the Irish and the Scots, as to who were the first to make whisky. However, whisky was actually first made in ancient China.

3. Whisky's dark colour comes from the wooden barrels in which it is aged.

4. The island of Jura (whose name is Norse for ‘island of the deer’) is home to a whisky distillery that can trace its roots back as far as the seventeenth century. The whisky it produces reveals traces of seaside saltiness after the initially savoured sweetness.

5. The word ‘whisky’ comes from the Gaelic uisge beatha – which was itself the Irish translation of the Latin aqua vitae, meaning ‘water of life’ – and which was shortened to usqua or usky.

6. There are more than 5000 types of Single Malt Whisky and around 90 percent of Single Malt Whisky comes from Scotland.

7. A closed bottle of whisky can be kept for more than 100 years and it will still be good to drink. And after opening, a half-full bottle of whisky will still remain good for another five years.

8. The first tax on whisky was imposed by the Scots Parliament of 1644. As a result, illicit stills became more and more common, particularly in the Highlands, and were not brought under control until the nineteenth century.

9. Some Scots would describe whisky as smashin’ which is thought to have originated from the Gaelic expression ‘S math sin meaning ‘that’s good’.

10. The market for whisky was created when the phylloxera epidemic hit European vineyards hard, resulting in a decrease in the production of not only wines but brandy as well.

You can find out more about Scotland's national drink, as well as other traditional aspects of Scottish life in Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave, available now - and possibly even in time for Christmas*!

* Snowmageddon permitting!

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