|16-02-2018||By Nokulunga Msibi|
Whisk(e)y is so popular, it is a multi-billion dollar global phenomenon. There are new distilleries and expansions announced almost daily, attesting to the popularity and love for it. You can even sign up for a degree in whiskey at the Dublin Institute of Technology.
Lovers of the spirit, inspired by its taste, use the most varied language to describe it. The lexicon of Whizzky users includes terms such as diesel fumes, freshly cut fruit, leathery, fresh lawn clippings to describe their whisk(e)y.
What is it about whisk(e)y that makes us love it so much?
Perhaps it is the alchemy of whisky production. Only 3 simple ingredients are used. Water, grain and yeast become a celebration of flavours enjoyed by most. To make whisky, only these 3 ingredients are used - patience and wood do the rest.
Copper Stills Used In Whisky Production
Could it be the patience and time it takes to turn white dog into whisk(e)y. The 2 years for bourbon and 3 years and a day for Scotch? The work of the cooper is the reason we enjoy whisk(e)y. Thousands of their casks lie in warehouses all over the world. The whisk(e)y industry teaches us patience, to wait. You will often see whisk(e)y lovers take a moment after cracking a new bottle. This is done to appreciate the years the whisky has taken until that special moment.
Casks holding maturing whisk(e)y
Could our love for whisk(e)y stem from the uniqueness of whisk(e)y from every distillery; the romance this uniqueness and appreciation of every person behind it? There are thousands of distilleries around the world - from Japan to Taiwan, Ireland to South Africa. Michael Urquhart, joint managing director of Gordon & MacPhail said to the Guardian "Each distillery is like a different grape variety. If you're looking for different tastes, different sensations, [whisk(e)y]can really give you that experience."
"Age and tradition are valuable commodities for whiskies. The longer and better your backstory, often, the bigger your sales" says the Guardian. Whisk(e)y has one of the most interesting stories and legends, including ghost stories because of its long history. This could be another reason we love our tipple.
An Illicit Still in the Highlands
Perhaps what makes whisk(e)y intriguing is its historic brush with the law. Scotch whisky's repressive excise laws of the 18th century forced a lot of distilleries to turn to illegal distilling and gave rise to illicit stills. Cadhu, owned and run by the Cummings, was situated at the top of the hill. In the 18th century, neighbours knew to keep watch for a red flag flying at the Cumming’s home which was Helen Cumming's signal that an excise officer was lodging with them.
What ever it is that inspires your great love for whisk(e)y, inspires poets and artists; we raise a dram to you. Sláinte!