A Journey to The Water of Life

“The history of whiskey is one of the greatest examples of a spirit’s success in becoming a world brand.”

Many whiskey enthusiasts know that whiskey means “water of life” in Celtic… Bernard Shaw says that whiskey is liquid sunshine. Furthermore, Winston Churchill tells, “Water is not fit to drink. To make palatable, we had to add whisky.”

The adventurous journey of whiskey also marked the history of its homeland, Scotland. It has been claimed that the whiskey, whose name was first found in the records of 1494 in Scotland, was brought to the country by Christian missionaries. Later on, an important step was taken for the birth of whiskey when the distillation techniques and stills discovered by the Egyptians to make perfumes traveled through Europe and reached Scotland. Although this dark distilled drink had used as an antibiotic and anesthetic, it eventually became one of the favorite drinks of the kings. The world’s first licensed distillery was Old Bushmills, founded in Ireland in 1608. Thus, the whiskey, which is distilled from barley, wheat, rye and corn, and then matured by resting in oak barrels, begins its adventure of opening up to the world from the houses where it is secretly made. With malt tax introduced in Scotland in 1725 enabled anyone to afford to produce legal whiskey, thus whiskey spread to almost every class of the society. In that period, immigrants who went to America from Ireland and Scotland used their distillation techniques on corn and pioneered the creation of American whiskey.

No doubt that whiskey production is an art in itself. It is aged in only oak barrels. The spirit acquires its golden color as it matures in barrels. We know that during maturation process that lasts for years, it may even take 20 years, 2 percent of the whiskey in the barrels evaporates due to volatile nature of the alcohol. This lost part is called as “Angel’s Share”, which is a reference to the Christian missionaries’ share in its discovery. Today, “Angel’s Share” is used a technical term in whiskey production; it is also an indication of how sacred whiskey is for its enthusiasts.

The number one producers of the whiskey in the world are Scotland and America, so much so that 42 bottles of whiskey are exported every second in Scotland. Besides, “whiskey” is the Irish and American spelling and “whisky” is used in Canada or Scotland. However, the spirit is mostly consumed in India, France, Uruguay, Japan and Spain. The spirit’s annual market share is expected to reach 95.9 billion dollars in 2026, of course, it will continue reach more people every year with its heritage, varieties, production and drinking techniques, culture and gusto.

Nikola Tesla drank whiskey every day as he thought it would make him live for 150 years, on the other hand, Frank Sinatra was buried in the grave with a bottle of whiskey. Perhaps, whiskey -the water of life- cannot help making live longer. However, as the famous Scottish proverb states, what whiskey will not cure, there is no cure for.