From its earliest days, whiskey has been known for its curative and creative properties. It evolved into a unique cultural icon of the people who savored it. It has charmed saints and tormented sinners. Each country, distiller and blender has made a distinct interpretation of this drink. Today, whiskey is enjoying yet another revival as a cultural icon.
While the exact origins are lost in the mists of time, it is generally accepted that the ancient Celts (and yes, that would include the Scots, Irish, Cornish and Welsh) knew how to distill grains at least as far back as 800 BC. Because they lacked the climate to grow the more fragile grapevines, their use of cereals such as barley and rye, both of which grew well in the northern European climate, was a logical choice. Celts viewed their fiery brew as a gift from their gods that literally brought the dead to life and warmed even the coldest spirit. In fact, in Celtic, whisky is called “uisge beatha”the water of life.
Whisky vs. Whiskey
Throughout this site, the spellings “whisky” and “whiskey” have been used interchangeably but not randomly. The word itself is an import from colonial times; American and Irish whiskey uses this spelling while Scottish and Canadian whiskies retain the older form, “whisky.”