Spirits through the seasons: Whisky
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whisky is barely enough.” – Mark Twain
With Burns Night just around the corner and as The Grainstore has the largest whisky collection in the county, we thought we’d take a closer look at the spirit which has inspired many a writer.
In Winter, there’s nothing better than a warming drink to keep you on your toes. Scandanavia has vodka, Eastern Europeans thrive on rakia and in the northern UK, they’re renowned for their whisky.
In fact, it was so depended upon, the word itself is derived from the Gaelic word for water. And during the American Revolution, it was used as currency. So, what is it about whisky that we find so comforting? Well, it might be to do with its origins as a medicinal treatment. Old housewives tales still rely on its ability to numb pain or quiet a bairn*, which we’re sure is much more to do with its alcoholic percentage than medicine. And as with a lot things that are still a part of our society today, we have Henry VIII to thank for its wider distribution. Initially it was monks who distilled whisky, but after the dissolution of the Catholic monasteries under Henry’s rule, they had to find ways to make some money and started their own distilleries on farms to supply demand, cementing Scotland and Ireland as the future of the industry.
The oldest distillery in the UK is Old Bushmills in Northern Ireland, which got its licence in 1608 and which we stock behind the bar at The Grainstore as both Bushmills and Bushmills 10 Year.
Whisky is distilled in copper stills from fermented grain mash, sometimes malted. It’s then aged in barrels before bottling. So, if you buy a bottle of five, 10, or even 60-year-old old whisky, the number refers to the amount of time it was left to age in the barrel before bottling. Prices can reach thousands, even tens of thousands, for the finest Scotch.
Despite the English government’s attempts to damage the industry down through additional taxes, the production of whisky hasn’t faltered. Stills are bigger, distribution is wider, but the method has remained the same. So, next time you’re sipping on a fine malt, spare a thought for its origins. It might make you appreciate the taste even more.
We’ve offers on our Whisky of the Week every day at The Grainstore, so come down and enjoy a dram with us this Winter.
*Don’t try this at home