Sunday, March 2, 2014

Micro-distilling Whiskey Rebellion

this lens' photo
Boutique booze is big business, the number of licenced micro distillers are exploding on to the market from craft distillers. Before, you needed to be backed up by millions, and could afford to wait four or five years before you started seeing a return from sales, nowadays aging techniques have cut down the waiting time to under a year and a half and the options on the size of a still set up are smaller, thus making it possible to have a start-up for well under a million, premises, licencing and labour costs, notwithstanding.

In England and Wales, they may soon be having their own whisky revolution, as some barriers are coming down and licences are being granted to small scale distillers as low as 350 litres, which is well below the archaic minimum, but there is the added problem of obtain an excise warehouse (bond).


The Origin and History Of Scotch Whisky 


The Origins and History of Scotch Whisky go back hundreds of years and was first distilled in Scotland, hence the name Scotch. The term whisky is from Gaelic: 'uisge beatha' meaning, lively water. The process of distillation has been around for centuries, from ancient Egyptians, producing perfumes, to 3rd century Greeks distilling chemicals, but not at this time for alcohol.

The spirit commonly made in monasteries, was widely known by medieval Latin distillers as aqua vitae 'lively water', and also known as 'water of life' because it was used for medicinal intendment: for longevity of life, relief of palsy, colic and smallpox. In 1505, Edinburgh Surgeon Barber's monopolies the distillation of aqua vitae, this fact again, enhancing its perceived medicinal properties. King James IV was fond of ethyl alcohol, and visited Dundee a year later paying a barber for a supply of aqua vitae.

Scotch as it is usually referred was originally made from malt barley it was not until the latter half of the eighteen century that distillers started to use wheat and rye. Scottish whisky is divided into five categories: single grain, blended grain, single malt, blended malt and blended Scotch whisky. Whisky is kept in oak barrels and aged for at least three years.

The first written recording of whisky was in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland in 1495. A friar from Lindores Abbey, Fife called John Cor was the distiller. The etched entry was for eight bolls of malt and said to be sufficient to produce over 500 bottles of aqua vitae.

The Union Act with England in 1707, raised taxes dramatically. The popularity of whisky attracted the attention of the Scottish parliament, introduced the malt tax at the end of the 17th century. Increasing rates of taxation drove the distillers underground forcing over half of the Scottish whisky output to become illegal.

Smuggling was standard practice for a 150 years with no moral imputation attached. Clever ways were thought of to store and transport the illicit spirit including storage space made available under pulpits and transported in coffins, this all to allude the watchful eyes of the Excise men or Gaugers.
By the time the 1820s came around over14,000 felonious stills were being commandeered annually, almost half the whisky consumed in Scotland was illegal.

The Duke of Gordon a forerunner in the illicit and high quality distillation of whisky propose in the House of Lords that whisky production should be legalized making it profitable for the government. In 1823, the British passed the Excise Act, legalizing distillation for a license fee of 10 pounds; this eventually put an end to smuggling and the making of the bootleg brew.

Geographically whisky is spelled differently with America and Ireland adding an e changing it to whiskey, apparently to distinguish their higher quality product from the poorer Scottish flavour at the time. Today, Scotch whisky has evolved into one of the greatest spirits the world over. Alexander Walker created a blended whiskey in 1820, in Kilmarnock adding to the Origins and History of Scotch Whiskey and becoming the best-selling brand of Scottish whisky today known as Johnnie Walker.

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