Among the various alcoholic drinks, whiskey is a favorite for many–whether relaxing at home or out on the town with friends, you can’t go wrong with a nice cool glass of the good stuff. Whiskey fits into any bar equipment layout, at home or at a bar. But were you aware of the people who kept the drink afloat through the years? Whiskey's history is long, so long in fact that many of the exact dates and commemorable moments got lost through the years. However, we can still begin to trace whiskeys roots back to the Middle East where it all began.
History of whiskey
Whiskey first came to be in the Middle East around 2000 BC, specifically in Iraq and Syria, where the art of distillation was founded; back then distillation was commonly used to produce perfume.
From 100 AD-1000 AD distillation became more widely known as Greek philosopher Alexander Aphrodisias started taking down written records of the process. Through the years the distillation process evolved to the point where it was now being used to create pure drinking water. As word of distillation spread from country to country, so did the increase in travel; and once the distillation process migrates to central and south Europe, religious groups take to creating medicinal cures for their most common diseases and ailments (smallpox and colic).
From 1000AD-1600 the distillation process continued to spread from country to country, eventually making its way to Scotland and Ireland. Here, monasteries would turn fermented grapes and grains into the first concept of modern day whiskey; but the Scottish weren’t the only group using distillation as a chance to create alcohol. From Spain to Italy and eventually America distillation was used to create wine and whiskey. Many started to realize that distillation, although new, was a great way to make money.
After 1600 AD European settlers migrated to America, bringing their distillation process with them. While taxes and unions threaten the production of whiskey in Scotland, advancements began to take place in America with the first commercial distillery being founded in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Whiskey Rebellion
The whiskey rebellion of 1974 was a modern day uprising of farmers and distillers located in Pennsylvania protesting the whiskey tax. For years, pressure and aggression with tax collectors rose, so much so that President Washington sent troops to battle.
Even though many favored the whiskey tax, there were just as many people in opposition. With a war in action and talks of opposition, the Republican Party gained support, building tension against the U.S. government.
The history of whiskey is rich in war and innovation. In fact, many of the original distilleries are still in production today, or have since been preserved as a piece of history. Today, there are over 500 craft distilleries present in the United States.
Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History
The Oscar Getz museum of whiskey history is located in Spalding Hall Bardstown, Kentucky and showcases the history of whiskey from the 1600s to the 1960s. In the museum you’ll find artifacts such as Abraham Lincoln's first liquor license, advertisements, posters, prescription for the medicinal use of alcohol during the prohibition era, artifacts and whiskey bottles. You might even find memorandums from the oldest bars in America.
The museum first served as a college, then became a hospital during the civil war. Guided tours are offered and the museum often hosts raffles for signed whiskey bottles–aged 10-23 years; and if you’re a whiskey enthusiast you’ll know that older and middle aged whiskeys are the best.
Common Whiskey Brands
Since the first distillery opened in the United States, Whiskey has been at the top of Americans favorites list. Whiskey offers many different flavors and variations–from scotch to bourbon, and cinnamon whiskey hundreds of brands have grown ten-fold over the years.
So, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to list some of the top favorite whiskey brands that have grown in popularity over the years.
- Canadian Club Whiskey
Canadian club claims to be the only Canadian whiskey with a unique blend. Canadian Club is owned by Beam Suntory and is a blend of rye, rye malt, and barley malt, topped off with a corn based whiskey.
- Buchanan's Scotch Whiskey
Buchanan is popular in North, Central, and Latin America. It features notes of honey, spice, and fruity flavors, making it a popular choice for the wintertime.
- Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey
Knob Creek launched in 1922, and compared to other brands, it’s brand new. Founded in Kentucky, Knob Creek Whiskey became one of the first premium small-batch whiskeys and is almost always in demand.
- Four Roses Bourbon
Four Roses was launched years ago, but was taken off the market in the 1950s then relaunched in 2002. Since then it has operated with four permanent flavors and seasonal limited time releases.
- The Glenlivet Scotch Whiskey
The Glenlivet is known as one of the best Scotch whiskies. It’s a long-aged spirit that has been a fan favorite for years.
- Southern Comfort
For years, Southern Comfort was noted as a lot of flavor with a side of whiskey. However, the flavor has since been diluted. Southern Comfort is fitted with hints of fruit and spice and this brand has since been made into the Christmastime fan favorite–eggnog.
- Crown Royal
Crown Royal is fit for a king, as it should be. This brand is the most popular and well known whiskey brand there is. On average, Crown Royal sells an average of $460,171,371 worth of whiskey per year.
Whisk Me Away
We could go on and on talking about the hundreds of whiskey brands out there, but we thought we’d leave the rest of the research to you. If you get in too deep, we’re here to help you with a hangover cure.
Overall, whiskey has a deeply rooted history that’s left a permanent imprint in countries around the world. From spirits to cocktails and everything in between, if you’re of the legal drinking age we’re sure there’s a whiskey out there you’ve come to love. Just don’t forget to find the best liquor storage to keep your liquor safe.