Whiskey: The happy story of ‘Water of Life’
Criticizing British cuisine has been a common place, but nobody came up with the taste of the British for the good drink.Already in the eighth century, the English San Bonifacio Censorship the Lopez to the liquor of so many islands, pleasure or vice in which "neither francs nor Lombardos, nor Romans or Greeks" did not incur "or Greeks".Of that British inclination, however, gourmets of all latitudes were to be favored, over time.If the empire had not mediated, in effect, the Bordeaux and Porto, the Madeira and the Jerez would not be what they are today.And, surely, their two national drinks and the Scottish whiskey and whiskey would have known world repercussion either.
With hundreds of millions of boxes sold every year, it can be thought that - as a trader affirms in the matter - that of whiskey has been "a happy story".The versatility of this distillate seems to ensure the continuity of its triumph: if whiskey has its staunch, there are all kinds of combinations to scandalize purists.It is not bad for a drink that is, theoretically, something very simple: distilled alcohol of fermented cereal grain and then aged in wooden barrels.In other words, distilled beer.
Egyptian or gaelic origin?
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La cerveza, una historia milenaria
If the mere word "whiskey" takes us to Scotland is not just because, as the writer Kevin R says.Kosar, "it seems that the Scots did it before anyone else".It is because there that simple distilled beer was enriched with all the elements - the earth, the water, the fire, the air - until a drink that can reach, within excellence, the most sophisticated complexity.
There are endless theories about whiskey origins.There are those who attribute it to the Egyptians, after all wise in the art of beer.Others speak rather of Greek accidents: we know that in the time of Aristotle, brandy was already elaborated.And, from Ramon Llull to Arnau de Vilanova, wise and medieval alchemists, may import it from the Arab world.In any case, before 1500, any historical evidence is "scarce and terribly confusing", and it is also very doubtful that the original whiskey is similar to that of our day.In the fifteenth century, the UISCE Beatha, allusive gaelic expression to "water of life", but we ignore if with it was referred to the brandy or generic "liquor" is documented for the first time.Over drinking monks, apothecaries and people of the country.
None of that means that it will not be distilled long before in Scottish lands, at least from dates close to 1400.And even though that whiskey would disapTo last, to confer to this distilled healing powers.Over time, however, production was going to be severely controlled: in hunger times, using the grain to distill and not to eat was a luxury that brought the raising of whiskey at the hands of the nobles.
None of that prevented the affection of the Scots for their drink, since they were - as a traveler refers - "children without teeth" until they became "elders without teeth".The greatest affection for whiskey, however, the treasury always showed it: in 1644, the production and raising of the "water of life" was taxed with taxes, and the political union of Scotland and England in the United Kingdom led to that "Every time England undertook a war "looking for money in this drink.And not only in whiskey itself, since they also tribute the cereal, the wires, and so on.Finally, in 1781 private distillation was prohibited.And even when in 1816 he would rectified and his fiscal loads were lifted, illegal consumption and production were strongly punishable.Let's think it was not until 1983 when there was no official of the British state in distilleries to control production.
All these impediments had a contradictory effect: the ingenuity of the Scots was fertile when hiding wires and barrels, and not the most suspicious of the state emissaries could imagine that some barrels with the legend "disinfectant for sheep" contained, precisely, whiskey.The ban, in addition, did nothing but increase smuggling: when, in 1822, Jorge IV reached a Scotland that had been not receiving real visit, the whiskey he provided, for pure irony, it was illegal.
The gentleman's drink
It was from then on when the history of whiskey really began to be "happy".The Scottish drink acquired a predicament that contrasts with the bad reputation of the Geneva, responsible for all kinds of tumults and disorders committed by popular classes in 18th -century England.Instead, whiskey benefited from the support of the crown.The aforementioned Jorge IV and, above all, Queen Victoria, they put Scotland fashion as a holiday destination.The romanticism of the time was ecstatic with the medievalizing fantasies of Walter Scott, royalty was madeYour displacements.Yes, curiously, the same queen who supported the "leagues of temperance" to prevent alcoholism, did not hesitate to grant the distinction of "real supplier" to Lochnagar distillery.
From there, the British Empire, which had so much Scottish capitalism, would take the whiskey to the five continents with the ships of the Navy.And, in the last section of the nineteenth century, the phylloxera plague, which sank the Brandy market, still offered a splendid opportunity for the growth of its rival.When the twentieth century finally arrived, the whiskey had already become the elegant drink for the Gentleman, with the extra healthy of "not affecting the head or liver", according to the advertising of the time.The fond of Eduardo VII's drink - Rey and Dandy - was going to contribute to giving more prestige to the distillate: when he began to drink it with water, many of his subjects imitated this custom Chic.
Always capable of reinventing itself, the Scotch survived the world wars - in 1943 a drop was not distilled - and knew how to win new spaces, with the different whiskey creams, for example, or with the introduction of the malt in front of the domain of the blendedFrom the 1970s and 1980s.That drink that, according to the wise James Boswell, "makes the Scots happy," can be paid today, at auctions, hundreds of thousands of euros the bottle.Highland or lowland, spereyside, Islay or Campbeltown, more salty or more mineral whiskeys, with golden tones or with mahogany reflexes, the world's thirst can choose today its distillate in a thousand versions.All of them coincide, however, in being, as historian David Daiches points out, a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture and a manifesto of human determination to fully enjoy his senses.