The history of whiskey is a long, interesting tale. From how it's been made historically, to its ties to historical events worldwide. This favorite drink has seen its fair share of world events, and bar and drinking history. The complete history of whiskey covers a lot of ground, from the whiskey rebellion to creative cocktails. This guide, your guide to whiskey, will provide insight into the key details of the history of whiskey.
Whiskey's history starts out way back when in the Middle East. It's so well aged, many of the important dates and events aren't something we can put a set date to. That said, we know enough to trace the path of history through the ages.
Your guide to whiskey starts out in the Middle East around 2000 BC. It started in Iraq and Syria, which is where the practice of distillation began. In those days before whiskey, distillation was most commonly used to make perfume.
The distillation process can be traced back to 100 AD. That's when Alexander Aphrodisias, a Greek philosopher, began taking notes on the process. The process changed as the practice of distillation spread across the world. As the practice moved, distillation started being used in making medicinal cures and early vaccines.
Moving forward to the year 1600, the distillation process spread further, finding solid ground in Scotland and Ireland. This is where the very first whiskeys were created. As the whiskey process moved onward, the creation of whiskey traveled and eventually reached America as well.
While the history of whiskey has seen issues with taxes and production concerns, the tradition of whiskey has continued on. A mark of the history of whiskey in America was the opening of the first commercial distillery in Louisville, Kentucky.
Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History
The Oscar Getz museum of whiskey history is in Spalding Hall of Bardstown, Kentucky. This museum contains the history of whiskey from the 1600s into the 1960s. The museum is home to artifacts including:
- Abraham Lincoln's first liquor license
- Advertisements, posters, and a prescription for the medicinal use of alcohol during the prohibition era
- Artifacts and whiskey bottles
When it first opened the museum was used as a college. It became a hospital during the Civil War, and these days, guided tours showcase the history within the museum. The museum also hosts raffles for signed whiskey bottles aged 10-23 years. As whiskey lovers know, those aged bottles are some of the best.
Common Whiskey Brands
Whiskey has been a fan favorite of alcohol drinkers in the United States since the first distillery opened up in Kentucky. The variety of whiskey available means that there's something for everyone to enjoy. From Scotch to bourbon. From cinnamon to classic spice. Some of the top favorite whiskey brands include:
- Canadian Club Whiskey
- Buchanan's Scotch Whiskey
- Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey
- Four Roses Bourbon
- The Glenlivet Scotch Whiskey
- Southern Comfort
- Crown Royal
All these whiskeys have their place in the history of this deeply rooted liquor. Around the world, whiskey has made its mark and continues to do so. Whiskey has grown so much since those early steps in the 1600s. These days there's a whiskey - and a way to enjoy whiskey - for everyone. Your guide to whiskey covers a lot of ground, but it's guaranteed to have something special for you.
Anyone who has spent time enjoying and learning about whiskey has heard the phrase "all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon." Of course, this is easy to understand in theory. However, the best way to learn this mantra is to try both and taste the difference. These key differences will help you learn what to keep an eye out for before you dive into a taste test.
Key Differences Between Whiskey and Bourbon
The difference between bourbon and whiskey is based on how the drinks are made and aged. For example, a few differences are:
Corn. Whiskey is made from fermented grains, and regular old whiskey is just made from grains. The addition of corn - at least 51% - is the key factor needed to make bourbon.
Barrels. While your basic whiskey can be aged in any barrel, bourbon is specifically only aged in charred oak barrels. And those barrels don't contain any dyes or colors. This gives bourbon its pure flavor.
Alcohol by volume. Alcohol by volume, also known as ABV, is the measuring of how much alcohol is in any given alcoholic beverage. Bourbon has some very specific requirements to be met for ABV standards.
- Bourbon must be distilled at 80% ABV or less
- Aged in a charred oak barrel until it has no more than 62.5% ABV
- Diluted to nothing less than 40% ABV
While all whiskeys have ABV standards, none are quite as strict as the ones for bourbon.
Kentucky or bust. There's also a rumored difference between bourbon and whiskey that says bourbon is only true bourbon if it was made in Kentucky. While there are certainly some specific Kentucky Bourbons only made in Kentucky, bourbon is made in many other places. Bourbon does have a rich history in Kentucky. However, if your bourbon comes from somewhere else, that doesn't make it any less of a bourbon.
Different types of whiskey
Even when you're including bourbon on a separate list, whiskey has a lot of claims to fame in terms of types of whiskey. A lot of countries have made their mark on the whiskey world, and it shows in the main types of whiskey. A few of them are:
- Irish Whiskey
- Scotch Whiskey
- Japanese Whiskey
- Tennessee Whiskey
Different types of bourbon
As for bourbon, there's a few less types, but don't let that fool you! These bourbon varieties all have their own unique flavors.
- Traditional Bourbon
- Wheat Bourbon
- Rye Bourbon
Have you been looking for something to do with a bottle of bourbon someone gifted you? Maybe you've picked up a few small bottles along the way and want to experiment. Either way, there's plenty you can do with bourbon besides just drinking it straight. The unique blend of vanilla and oak in bourbon makes it a great fit for many types of cocktails, including:
- Whiskey Sour
- Boulevardier Cocktail
- New York Sour
- John Collins
- The Old Fashioned
The whiskey sour is a classic whiskey drink that every whiskey fan should either taste or try to make at some point. A whiskey sour will never go out of style, and it's got so many possibilities when it comes to which whiskey you use. There's truly a whiskey sour for every whiskey fan. That said, the whiskey sour is a pretty simple drink. If you want to make it, you'll need a few things. Those items include:
- A shaker (or mason jar)
- Your favorite whiskey
- A great glass
And a few other ingredients that depend on how you want to make your whiskey sour. Whether you choose to make your sour or buy one, there's no bad way to appreciate this drink.
A whiskey sour is, on the simplest level, a blend of spirits, citrus, and sugar. It's an old blend of flavors that has remained a classic through the years. The basic recipe includes whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and egg white. Variations offer different ingredients and tastes, but the classic never goes out of style.
How Do You Make a Whiskey Sour
The simplicity of the whiskey sour lends itself well to anyone looking to do a little at-home bartending. All you need ingredients wise is:
- 2 ounces of bourbon whiskey
- ¾ ounce of lemon juice
- ½ ounce of simple syrup
- ½ ounce of egg white
- Angostura bitters
These fantastic ingredients come together in a great way to make the simple yet incredibly unique flavor of the whiskey sour. To mix them up, all you need to do is:
- Put the bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white into a shaker. Then dry shake everything together for 30 seconds.
- Add some ice and shake again until your drink is chilled.
- Strain your whiskey sour into a glass - a coupe glass if you want to be true to the drink.
- Add a few drops of Angostura bitters for your garnished flavor.
After that, sit back and enjoy your very own whiskey sour. This classic recipe is a great way to experience this drink. That said, if you want to branch out, don't be afraid of the variations! Your guide to whiskey is the place to learn how you can experience whiskey drinks of all shapes and sizes.
New York Sour Recipe
The New York sour is the result of years of bartenders and home connoisseurs experimenting with the whiskey sour. For fans of the whiskey sour, the New York sour recipe will feel quite familiar. The difference is that this twist uses red wine instead of Angostura bitters. It also goes through the recipe creation a little differently. To make a New York sour, you should:
- Put the bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white into a shaker with ice, and shake it until it’s mixed well.
- Strain the mix into a rocks glass over ice.
- Pour the red wine over the back of a spoon, so that it floats on top of the other ingredients.
This drink is the perfect combination for wine and whiskey fans. It's also a really cool drink to order in a bar and watch the process of it being made.
If you want to experiment further, try mixing in blackberry flavors with your whiskey sour. The sweet and tangy flavor of blackberry will suit the whiskey and the bitters perfectly. Some optional additions are:
- Blackberry liqueur
- Simple syrup made with blackberries
- Blackberry brandy
- Any blackberry mix, really
You can also try out other flavors if you like. These mixes are all about personal preference, so whatever works for you is a good choice. The truth is, your guide to whiskey is really more about guiding you towards the best ways for you to enjoy whiskey. There's no one right answer.
The whiskey cake is the perfect blend of everything nice. There's a variety of ways you can make a whiskey cake. You can use your favorite whiskey, or your favorite cake recipe. You can go with something traditional, or something delightfully unique. Overall, a good whiskey and tasty cake will make a great combination.
Irish Whiskey Cake
Of course, it wouldn't be a proper whiskey treat if whiskey cake wasn't linked to Ireland. Whiskey first started out in Ireland in 1405. Though the country and its whiskey has been through a lot since then, Irish whiskey remains some of the best whiskey in the world.
Irish whiskey is appreciated for its history, and its rich flavors, and it lends itself to many whiskey treats. Some of the best whiskey cakes are made with Irish whiskey to take advantage of that rich, unique flavor. You simply can't go wrong with a cake and Irish whiskey mix.
Irish Whiskey Cake Recipe
A good recipe you can try out comes from Food.com. To make this basic whiskey cake, you'll need:
- 1 box of yellow cake mix
- ½ cup of vegetable oil
- 1 box of instant vanilla pudding
- 1 cup of milk
- 1-2 ounces of whiskey (Jameson is a great choice)
- 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 egg
For the glaze you'll need:
- ¾ cup of white sugar
- ¼ pound of butter
- ½ - ¾ cups of whiskey
Once you've gathered your ingredients, follow these directions:
- Combine the pudding, cake mix, milk, egg, and oil in a bowl, and beat them together on medium speed for two minutes.
- Flour the walnuts and mix them into the batter.
- Bake your cake in a round tube cake pan for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
- As the cake bakes, start the glaze by combining the white sugar, butter, and whiskey, and cook it until the sugar is melted.
- Once the cake is done and cooled, leave it in the pan, pour the glaze over it, and leave it in the pan overnight.
- Let the cake sit for a day to prepare. Be sure to flip the cake every day, to keep the moisture consistent throughout the cake.
Whiskey & Chocolate
Of course, we can't leave out an option for people who love chocolate cake. This cake from Fine Cooking is quite the project. That said, the final, delicious product is so worth the work.
Whichever whiskey cake you choose, you're sure to enjoy this sweet treat. Your guide to whiskey should certainly take you around to try different whiskey cakes, as you'll get a different flavor from every baker.
Of course, whiskey history is about more than the distillation process and the creation of Irish whiskey. There's also some history that's tied to whiskey, but is more about American history and the government. If you've searched for whiskey on Google, then you've certainly heard of the Whiskey Rebellion.
The Whiskey Rebellion was an uprising of farmers and distillers in 1794. The farmers and distillers were upset about the whiskey tax that had been imposed on them by the federal government. Before long these taxes became a nuisance and prompted Americans to do something about it. The rebellion started out simple enough: frustrated farmers and distillers dealing with taxation they were upset about. The Whiskey Rebellion became such a strong point in American history because of the escalation of the tension.
What Caused The Whiskey Rebellion?
The Whiskey Rebellion was caused by frustrations over taxation on whiskey and related whiskey products. The frustration started out because the people involved in making whiskey were upset about what they considered to be unfair taxes. Overall, the reason for the taxing had to do with debts and work on the federal governments part to try and balance some debts. The whiskey tax was signed by Congress in 1791, and the frustrations and conflict began shortly after.
When Was The Whiskey Rebellion?
In September 1791, the first violent act of the Rebellion occurred. An officer responsible for ensuring taxation was ambushed on his collection route. His attackers stripped and tarred and feathered him, then stole his horse and abandoned him. This act led to further fury on both sides, with a larger attack coming in the summer of 1794. This attack is now known as the attack and destruction of Bower Hill. The main violence of the Bower Hill attack was in the act of burning down the Bower Hill estate.
In August 1794 President Washington himself was needed to take some action against the Rebellion. A peace attempt was tried and failed. Washington assumed emergency power to bring in the military and gain control of the situation. Washington’s stance, along with the militia coming to town, was met by the members of the Rebellion stepping down. In the end, those who were found guilty of treason were pardoned by Washington.
What Was the Significance of the Whiskey Rebellion?
The Whiskey Rebellion was the first true test of federal authority in America. Washington was still a new president, and the US was still very much several parts of a country. The show of federal power bringing states together was the first step towards a united country.
Your Guide to Whiskey: The Future of Whiskey
This guide, your guide to whiskey, is effectively a stepping stone into the world of whiskey. There's a lot to learn out there. There's also a lot of whiskey and bourbon to taste. Your guide to whiskey shouldn't end here. You may be opening a bar and wanting to serve the best whiskey. You might just want to buy a few bottles for your home bar. Either way, get out there and enjoy the wide world of whiskey.