“Usquebaugh” is a Gaelic word and is pronounced “Usky” it means “water of life”. This Usky became widely known for the seemingly wonderful effects it had on human minds and was christened the world over as ‘whisky’. Many people mistakenly refer to Whisky as “Scotch”, however, Scotland has taken out an international patent on the name “Scotch” and so any Whisky that is not made in Scotland cannot be called Scotch.
The fact of the matter is that no matter how good a whisky is, and some very good whiskies are brewed in a few countries, and surprisingly Japan is one of the best places where the best whiskies are distilled, but they cannot, just cannot, get the original taste of Scotch. What is the secret that the Scots put behind the brewing of their whiskies? Many experts believe it is in the soil where the Barley is cultivated.
It is believed that whisky was first brewed in the monasteries of Ireland and caught the fancy of people in countries where grapes, the original fruit used to make wines, were not easily procured. Though whisky was originally used for medicinal purposes the intoxicating effect soon found favor among many people world wide.
In the early 1500’s when the monasteries were being closed and the monks were driven from their shelters they had no choice but to put their knowledge of distilling alcohol to use. It was perhaps for the better because the process of distilling whisky at the time was unscientific and very dangerous too. The monks perfected the process of making whisky and gifted the world with one of its most popular brews – arguably only second to tea.
It was in the 17th century that the Scottish Parliament decided to tax and control the breweries – they taxed malt and it’s end products this gave rise to bootlegging, the smuggling of alcohol, something rampant event to this day. Like the first breweries were the monks, the first bootleggers were also monks – smuggling the stuff around in coffins – but can we blame them!?!