It’s undeniable that whisky has a wealthy history and there are so many interesting facts about this rich brew that it’s virtually impossible to list them all. Needless to say, here at Sciacca, we took an interest in these factoids, which is why we chose the most interesting and impressive ones, so you can educate yourself and appreciate this alcoholic beverage even more…
Fact #1 The Whisky versus Whiskey conundrum
Ah, to e or not to e? That is the question! There’s some dispute about the correct spelling of the word and whether it should be with or without the ‘e’. Time for some whiskey/whisky mnemonics: a quick way to remember how some of the world’s biggest producers spell their products: whisky usually denotes Scotch whisky and Scotch-inspired liquors, while whiskey denotes the Irish and American liquors.
The general consensus is this: countries without Es in their names (i.e. Canada, Scotland, and Japan) spell it as ‘whisky’ (plural whiskies); whereas countries that have Es in their names (United States and Ireland) spell it as ‘whiskey’ (plural whiskeys). Perhaps Scots spell it without the “e” because they believe more vowels waste good time that could otherwise be spent drinking…. Who knows?
Fact #2 True whisky drinkers don’t add ice
A true whisky connoisseur would tell you that ice tends to dull the drink’s flavour. It reduces the temperature of the whisky considerably, inhibiting the flavour and freezing its aroma. If you must, adding one cube is moderately acceptable. Apparently, taking it “neat” doesn’t work well either. Adding just a droplet of water is best.
Interestingly, the water prevents the strong alcohol composition from numbing your senses. On the type of water, soft still spring water will enhance the whisky’s aroma and flavour. Certain tap water contains high levels chlorine that would spoil the flavour, so be cautious.
Fact #3 Lighting whisky on fire
According to Scottish legend: people used to light some of the scotch on fire to determine how much alcohol was present. The colour of the flame indicated whether or not the alcohol content was right. If it burnt too hot, there was too much alcohol. They usually sold it to the distillery workers cheap.
Fact #4 In frontier country, whisky was as valuable as gold
In 18th century Pennsylvania, the favoured currency was whiskey – which was used for cooking, medicine, and drinking, among other things. That whiskey loyalty eventually led to the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion, where farmers brawled against the taxes that threatened their liquor livelihood. That was a fight worth fighting, if you ask us!
Fact #5 The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794
There was a revolution in Pennsylvania counties when Alexander Hamilton started taxing whisky in 1791. Scottish and Irish pilgrims begrudged the tax because whisky was an important economic commodity to them. A revolt broke out in 1794 and the president at the time, none other than George Washington, directed troops to quell the rioting. Hamilton wanted to set an example using two rebels, whom he convicted for treason, but Washington later absolved them. Hamilton’s tax was revoked in 1802.
Fact #6 There are 5-7 whisky regions
Depending on who you ask, there are between 5 and 7 different main regions where whisky is distilled. The five regional whiskies that are always included are: Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Kentucky (Bourbon), Canadian Whisky, and Tennesse Whiskey. The two disputed regional whiskies are Japanese and New Zealand.
Fact #7 The word whisky means “water of life”
Whisky comes from the Gaelic word “Uisge Beatha” which means “water of life”. When the Irish monks spread whiskey around Europe, no one could pronounce uisce beatha. “Uisce” actually sounded more like “whiskey.” So, over time, it phonetically morphed into the word “usky,” and eventually adopted the pronunciation of “whiskey”. Drink that water, friends!
Fact #8 Dairy farmers love whisky distillers
Dairy farmers close to distilleries frequently pick up the discarded pulp of corn and other grains used to make whisky. The two have a symbiotic relationship (which in layman’s terms means a close connection between two different living creatures from which both usually get benefits). The distilleries discard excess grain waste and give the farmers a nutrient-rich feed for their cattle, which in turn helps the cows produce more milk.
Fact #9 Whisky Blends
Blended whisky came about at a time when single malt whisky was considerably younger and harsher than it is nowadays. Blends consist of anywhere from 15 to 50 individual whiskies, as a testimony to the blender’s art.
Fact #10 The art of whiskey blending
Blended whiskies take whiskies from various distilleries and combines them. The standard ratio of malt to grain is 60% grain whiskey and 40% malt whiskey. Each whisky used in the blending process has typically aged for approximately 5 years. It’s important to have it taste the same year after year. Examples of blended whiskies are: Johnnie Walker, Dewar’s, Seagram’s Seven Crown, Jameson, Chivas Regal, Old St. Andrews and Isle of Skye.
Fact #11 Three’s the magic number
Scotch whisky can only be called as such when it’s been left for a minimum of three years to age in casks, in Scotland. However, some casks hold whisky for a substantially longer time than this.
Fact #12 It’s all about the numbers…
A closed bottle of whiskey will be good for 100 years, and after it’s opened, a half-full bottle will remain good for 5 years. What’s more, there are over 5,000 types of single-malt whiskey…
Did we forget to mention that whisky looks GREAT on bars? We encourage you to come to Sciacca Grill Valletta, where we boast of an entire library of different whiskies, originating from all parts of the world. Whether it’s American, Australian, Irish, Scotch or even Japanese whisky to mention just a few.
Do you fancy a glass of Johnny Walker? We offer the Green, Blue, Red, Black, Double Black, Gold and even Platinum label. Perhaps you prefer a more traditional taste, and would prefer a shot of the Scottish Monkey Shoulder whisky? Do you prefer a stronger, more robust flavour? Then we recommend Ireland’s Jameson. If you prefer a sweeter taste, with undertones of honey, 18 or 21 year old Glendronarch is definitely worth a try. How about a taster of Tasmania’s Hellyer’s Road? If you’re looking for a milder whisky, then this is your go-to blend.
These are but a handful of whiskies we have to offer to our loyal clientele. Interested in sampling one of our whiskies? Then we suggest for you to book a table at our Valletta eatery. We have a vast selection behind the bar, with shelves from floor to ceiling heights that will certainly make you feel like you’re spoilt for choice!
For more information or to reserve a table, click here.