6 Facts You Might Not Have Known About Whisky
16/05/20 - Here, we examine six interesting facts you might not know about whisky, which is steeped in centuries of tradition
Fancy a nice ‘uisge beatha’ on the rocks? How about a glug of ‘water of life’?
No? We don’t blame you for being hesitant, but did you know that the word whisky is derived from the Scots Gaelic ‘uisge beatha’ meaning ‘water of life’? We can certainly see why it got that name and so, with this Saturday 16th May being World Whisky Day 2020 we thought we’d take a closer look at the spirits raising spirit. Here, we examine six other interesting facts you might not know about this beverage, which is steeped in centuries of tradition:
1. The world’s oldest whisky is older than Big Ben
Believed to have been bottled sometime between 1851 and 1858 at a distillery in Ballindalloch, Scotland, a bottle of Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky holds the Guinness World Record as the oldest bottle of whisky in existence. It was auctioned off in 2006 and fetched a staggering £14,850 – that’s just over £37 per millilitre!
2. The world’s most expensive whisky
If you thought the Glenavon was expensive, it pales in comparison to The Macallan 1926 60-year-old single malt from cask number 263. Distilled over 90 years ago and aged in European Oak for 60 years – which takes some incredible patience – the tipple is known as ‘The Holy Grail’ of whiskys. A bottle from cask 263 sold for £1.45 million, beating the record set by a similar bottle from the same cask, which fetched £1.2 million the year prior.
3. Whisky is over 500 years old
The first reference to Scotch whisky on record dates back to 1494, making the beverage at least 500 years old. Malt was sent "To Friar John Cor, by order of the king”, with an amount enough to make about 500 bottles of ‘aquavitae’, which not coincidentally, is Latin for – you guessed it – ‘water of life’. However, incredibly, whisky may actually be even older than this, as there is evidence that alcohol was being distilled in Asia as far back as 800BC.
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4. A bottle big enough to share
Got a bit of a thirst? Well this might just quench it – the world’s largest bottle of whisky comes it at an incredible 1.5 metres tall. Containing a whopping 105.3 litres of the golden stuff, the 14-year-old Tomintoul would serve 5,250 drams (that’s 150 regular-sized bottles), which should be just about enough to keep you going through lockdown.
5. Good things come to those who wait
By law, whisky must be matured for at least three years before it can legally be called whisky. That takes a lot of patience in and of itself, but did you know the record for the longest-matured whisky in the world belongs to Gordon and MacPhail’s Mortlach 75. Put into a cask just after the outbreak of World War Two in 1939, each bottle will set you back £20,000 and it has been matured for so long it has outlasted the person who created it. Now that takes some serious patience! Thankfully, reviews from those lucky enough to taste it confirm it was well worth the wait.
6. Kent on the whisky map
In 2019 a little piece of local history was made, when we made Kent’s first ever bottle of whisky (legally at least). Created with a wash made from fellow Kentish company, Westerham Brewery, this beautifully light and smooth whisky was distilled in our 300 litre copper-pot still, Patience and rested in a medium-charred bourbon cask at the Anno Distillery for over 4 years until bottled. An exclusive 549 bottles were hand numbered and presented in a wooden box, with a vial of the new make spirit.