Whiskey has a long and glorious history, and it has remained until today, one of the most popular beverages worldwide. International Whiskey Day invites everyone to celebrate all kinds of whisk(e)y – but of course, also to drink wisely and responsibly. A lot of people celebrate this day and you could even find events near you. Find out more about this famous drink and about this celebration!
First of all, let’s look at what whisk(e)y is.
It’s “a strong, pale brown alcoholic drink, originally from Scotland and Ireland, made from grain such as barley, maize, or rye“.
There are five stages to the process: malting, malting, fermentation, distillation, and maturation.
- The first stage – malting – is when the grain (usually barley) “is soaked for 2-3 days in warm water and then traditionally spread on the floor of a building called a malting house” in order for it to germinate.
- The next step is mashing: the malt is now added to warm water in order to extract the liquid sugars contained in the grain.
- The mash is then cooled and poured into large tanks and yeast is added to it to make the sugars turn into alcohol. That’s fermentation.
- After, the distillation process begins. The “wash is distilled twice – first in the wash still, to separate the alcohol from the water, yeast and residue called pot ale – the solids of which are also saved for use in animal feeds… Only the pure centre cut, or heart of the run, which is about 68% alcohol by volume is collected in the spirit receiver.”
- Finally, the spirit is put into oak casks to mature for at least three years. It’s only after this time that it can be called whisky).
Origin of the word
Whiskey comes from Gaelic, more precisely Uisce na Beatha, which means “The Water of Life”. Then the name was shortened to Uisce (“Water”). The pronunciation slowly evolved over time: first, it became Ish-Key and then Whiskey. Thus it has remained ever since.
Whisky or whiskey?
Whiskey is made in the USA and in Ireland, while whisky is made in Scotland, Canada, Japan, and the rest of the world. In the USA, bourbon and Rye whiskeys are distilled twice and are made from a mix between corn, barley, and rye. The ingredients of the Irish whiskey are roughly the same (water, cereals, and yeast), but the distillation method isn’t, since the Irish perform the triple distillation while the Scots only distil twice. It’s the Irish who emigrated to the USA circa 1870 who brought the ‘e’ with them.
Origin of International Whisk(e)y Day
International Whisk(e)y Day officially launched in 27th March 2009 at the Whisky Festival Northern Netherlands by various whisk(e)y writers, among whom Helen Arthur, Martine Nouet, Dave Broom, and Charles MacLean. They wished to honour their friend and legendary whisk(e)y writer, the late Michael Jackson. Every year, whisk(e)y enthusiasts donate money to different charities, above all to Parkinson’s Disease charities as the singer suffered from this for many years. That’s why International Whisk(e)y Day falls on Michael Jackson’s birthday every 27th March.
To sum things up, International Whisk(e)y Day is a great occasion to have a good glass of whisk(e)y (or several but don’t forget to drink responsibly!) with friends! You could even do a good deed and donate some money to a charity of your choice!
What’s your favourite drink?