The History of Whisk(e)y

Posted by Jacob Mitchell on

Both Ireland and Scotland claim to have given birth to whiskey.

99 Drams of Whiskey HopkinsBut, as food writer Kate Hopkins notes in her book 99 Dramsof Whiskey, neither country has definitive proof. "Ask an academic," she writes, "...and he or she is likely to shrug and mumble, 'Hell if I know. That part of the world wasn't too keen on keeping records of who was doing what.'"

The making of liquor dates back to at least 800 AD when Arab chemist Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan was carrying out distillation, the purifying of a beverage made via fermentation (i.e. beer, wine or hard cider). Wine was already being distilled around the world when physicians tried distilling beer in either Ireland or Scotland (or both), according to the late English whiskey writer Michael Jackson. In his book Whiskey: TheDefinitive World Guide, he explains that a family of physicians, the MacVeys (a.k.a. the Beatons), translated medical texts from the Arab world whose secrets of distillation resulted in the first whiskey creations. As doctors, the MacVeys/Beatons served both Ireland and Scotland, which is why whiskey's exact origins remain murky. Let's just call it a tie.


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