[Ansteorra-rapier] Whiskey class

Brendan McEwan brendan_mcewan at dhope.net
Sat Jan 12 23:30:41 PST 2002

Just because the modern distilleries did not exist does not mean it(whiskey)
did not exist.  Licensing a distillery did not happen until the 1600's(in
Ireland).  The oldest licensed distillery is Bushmill, I believe, founded in
1608 but...

I found this with one search on the first line.

Scotch whisky can trace its roots back to the ancient Celts of more than 500
years ago. The name they gave to it was 'uisge beathe' - the water of life.
Certainly the whisky that they produced was stronger and much harsher than
what is now produced today, as they only had knowledge of crude distillation
processes. The production of Scotch whisky came about because there was no
effective way of storing beer over a long period of time, and distilling a
liquid into a spirit drink was a way around this.

The earliest evidence of major Scotch whisky production was in 1494 when
Friar John Corr received enough malt to produce over 1000 bottles of 'aqua
vitae' (Latin for 'water of life'). The large-scale production of it had
begun to take place primarily because it was considered a good medicine,
providing relief from a wide variety of ailments, and also warming the body
on a bitterly cold Scottish winter night!

By the late 1600's the government had realised the immense profit making
potential of Scotch whisky, and began to tax it. This led to an almighty
struggle over at least the next 150 years between the excise men, in favour
of legal Scottish distilleries paying tax, and the people who ran illegal
Scottish distilleries, often in the Highlands of Scotland. Often raids on
illegal stills would involve the military and the excise men were instructed
to smash up any equipment that they found. They were fighting a losing
battle though. To give an idea of the scale of the problem, in 1777 there
were 8 licensed distilleries, but at least 400 unregistered. Smuggling was
rife, and the Highlanders used all their creative means to ensure that as
much illegal whisky was distributed as possible. Smugglers sometimes faced
the death sentence, so it was a real battle of nerve and wit.

This is not to say that the licensed Scottish distilleries were not selling
a lot of whisky though. Indeed in the late 1700's they were selling so much
south of the border that they were affecting the gin sales of England, no
mean feat in those times. The distillers of England's then favourite spirit
drink, gin, used their powers of persuasion to get the duty on Scotch whisky
being sent to England increased. This led to one of the biggest Scottish
distilleries, Stein and Haig, to declare themselves bankrupt. In turn there
was another increase in the distribution and consumption of that harsher
spirit drink, illegal Scotch whisky.

A compromise was reached in 1823 when legislation made producing Scotch
whisky a profitable venture, and all though this didn't completely wipe out
illegal production it was a giant step in forming it into the great industry
that it became.

Scotch, or any "whisky" for that matter is nothing more than a distilled
ale(malted(partially germinated) barley, water, and yeast).


-----Original Message-----
From: ansteorra-rapier-admin at ansteorra.org
[mailto:ansteorra-rapier-admin at ansteorra.org]On Behalf Of Chris Zakes
Sent: Friday, January 11, 2002 6:54 PM
To: ansteorra-rapier at ansteorra.org
Subject: [Ansteorra-rapier] Whiskey class

At 07:37 AM 1/9/02 -0800, you wrote:
>[ Picked text/plain from multipart/alternative ]
> This is to let all know that one additional class is being included that
is not listed.  It is a Scotch tasting class at the end of the day after
all fighting is over.

I realize I'm probably being a stick-in-the-mud, but... I did a bit of
digging at http://www.scotchwhisky.net/distilleries/index.htm. *None* of
the distilleries I looked at  date before 1800. Why are we having a class
on a subject that's 200 years post-period?

	-Tivar Moondragon

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