The History And Growth In Popularity Of Scotch Whisky

Scotch WhiskyThe Gaelic word “usquebaugh” literally means “Water of Life”, and it eventually turned into “usky”, then “whisky” in English. Whether it is known as Scotch, Whisky (not whiskey), or Scotch Whisky, it has done quite well on the global market. The term “Scotch” has been internationally protected by the Scottish. In order for a Scotch Whisky officially to be labeled as Scotch, it must be produced in Scotland. There are great whiskies which are created by similar methods elsewhere, including Japan, but they are not permitted to be called Scotches. Such alcoholic drinks are termed as “whiskey”, instead. Although they may be wonderful, they are not likely to captivate the tastes of Scotland like Scotch Whisky did.

According to popular legend, St. Patrick introduced Ireland to the practice of distilling in fifth century AD. He had acquired the knowledge of this from France and Spain. The secrets of distilling are said to have arrived in Kintyre with the Dalriadic Scots in 500 AD.

Distilling was first applied to perfume, then it was used with wine. Next, it was adapted to use with fermented mash of cereals in regions in which grapes were not readily available. Scotch Whisky was termed ‘aqua vitae’, or ‘water of life’. Scotch Whisky was used mainly for medicinal purposes, such as for smallpox and colic, and was made in monasteries.

Since rather primitive equipment was used at that time, and there was very little scientific expertise, the spirit surely was quite potent, and was even harmful at times. Throughout the 15th century, there was an improvement in the spirits that were produced. Monks who were driven from the monasteries when they closed decided to put their distilling skills to good use, and this knowledge then spread to other people.

The Scottish Parliament eventually picked up on the increasing popularity of scotch whisky distillation, and they introduced the first taxes on malt and its end product at the end of the 17th century. Distillers were soon driven underground after taxes kept rising. This steep rise was due to the Act of Union with England in 1707. Smuggling Scotch Whisky became a common practice for about 150 years, and this was without a moral stigma attached to it.

The Duke of Gordon eventually proposed that whisky should be produced legally, in order for the Government to be able to make a profit. The Excise Act was passed in 1823, sanctioning the distillation of Scotch Whisky for a license fee of 10 pounds, as well as a set payment per gallon of proof spirit. Smuggling Scotch Whisky faded away nearly completely over the next ten years, and many distillers that are used today are on sties that were used by smugglers in years past.

The Scotch Whisky industry that we know today had its foundation laid by the Excise Act. In 1831, Aeneas Coffey invented the Coffey or Patent Still. This led to a more continuous Scotch Whisky distillation process taking place. Grain Whisky came about as a result, which is a spirit that is less intense than the original Scotch Whisky. This extended the appeal of Scotch Whisky to a wider market, because of it being a lighter flavor. France helped out with growing the appeal of Scotch Whisky, due to the devastation of the vineyards from the phylloxera beetle in the 1880s. When the industry recovered, Scotch Whisky had replaced brandy as the preferred spirit there.