Whiskey has become one of the fastest growing spirit categories. The total market share of whiskey is approximately 8.2% while vodka constitutes almost a third of the market share for alcohol. However, a growth rate between 6 and 18% depending on the type of whiskey shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whiskey distilleries are having a hard time keeping up with demand and with those impressive growth rates, who wouldn’t!
In Gaelic, whiskey translates to "water of life." Modern whiskey is most often traced back to the Irish and Scottish and the feud they continue to this day over who introduced the process to whom. Science tells us that the Irish monks were producing whiskey before the Scots and most likely introduced it to them.
Wondering about the “Whisky” vs “Whiskey” thing? It goes back to the origins of the alcohol. Scots spell it without the "e" because they believe more vowels waste good drinking time. You know they’re serious about drinking when an E stands in their way. In all seriousness, “whisky” is so spelled by Scotts and Canadians and “whiskey” – is the preferred spelling by the Irish and Americans.
According to a Scottish legend we found interesting, to test the alcohol content of the scotch/whiskey they would light it on fire. The color and the temperature of the flame indicated the alcohol content. If it burned too hot, it was too strong. These strong batches were probably pretty popular around the distillery. The legend says the scotch with too much alcohol was sold to the workers at a discount.
Most people know the main areas and types of whiskey production: Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Kentucky (Bourbon) and Tennessee Whiskey. There’s also the very popular Canadian Whiskey and 2 disputed regions where whiskey is distilled – Japan and New Zealand.
Recognize any distilleries on this KY map?
Whiskey is a complex drink with far too many interesting nuances for us to discuss. But we wanted to include a few interesting notes on the preservation of whiskey and its life cycle.
- A whiskey stops maturing after it is bottled, unlike wine which continues on its aging journey even after bottled.
- A closed bottle of whiskey can be kept for more than 100 years and it will still be good to drink! Anyone who can keep a bottle around for that long deserves an award.
- A half-full bottle of whiskey will remain good for five years after it’s opened.
As a fascinating spirit with a rich history and so much of it shaping US history, watch for PART 2 of Whiskey or Whisky? More fun facts will be along shortly, but until then we encourage you to sample some whiskeys (responsibly please!) and let us know what you think.