Scotland of course, is famous for its rugged mountains, its wild terrain, its stunning countryside, delicious and unique dishes such as haggis, neeps, and tatties, and of course, for whisky. Scotland and whisky go hand in hand with one another, and records of whisky distilling in Scotland can be traced back centuries upon centuries. Referred to as ‘water of life’ whisky was once consumed primarily for medicinal purposes, until the locals discovered just how delicious it actually was, and how relaxed you felt whilst drinking it. Just like today, greedy politicians noticed its popularity and decided to slap huge taxes on the materials and grains used to distil the whisky, forcing many distillers to smuggle it in an attempt to evade the greedy taxmen. Smuggling of whisky became common place in Scottish life, with over 50% of all whisky consumed in Scotland during the 19th century being contraband and illegal. Laws changed, it became possible to distil whisky legally in return for a fee to obtain a licence and materials, and smuggling died out, yet the popularity of whisky sky-rocketed, and is just as popular right now too. Now that we’ve had a brief trip back in time, let’s take a look at a few interesting facts about Scottish whisky.
Scottish whisky owes a lot to a beetle – In the 1880’s Scottish whisky noticed a distinct increase in sales and popularity. The reason for this, was because over in France, their vineyards used for making brandy and wines, were taking a real hit, with many of them being wiped out. This wasn’t foul play at the hands of man, but rather the result of a tint black insect known as the Phylloxera Beetle. Brandy was incredibly hard to obtain, and so people were forced to sample scotch whisky instead, and they absolutely adored it.
At its basic, Scottish whisky is a distilled beer – Though Scotch whisky and beer are light years apart in terms of taste, flavour, and consistency, the process in which they’re created is actually very similar. Whisky is made mainly from malted barley, and certain other grains, just as beer, but it is the ‘wash’ that separates the two, because no hops are added to the whisky, as they are to beer. It also undergoes two distillation processes and is aged for at least 3 years in oak barrels. They used to obtain their oak barrels from the US, as by law, Bourbon whiskey brewers could only use their barrels once, so rather than burning them or dumping them, they sold them to the Scots instead.
Scotland exports huge amounts of whisky – Just to give an idea about just how popular Scotch whisky is overseas, every single year, Scotland exports over one billion bottles of Scottish whisky! Their biggest customers are the French, who import roughly 200 million bottles each year, with the Americans being their second largest customers, importing around 120 million bottles per year.
Scottish whisky can vary drastically in price – The average cost of a bottle of Scottish whisky is roughly between £15 and £30 ($23 – $47), but some extra special varieties can sell for anything from £37,000 ($54,000) up to around £101,000 ($160,000) with some costing even more than that.
It’s relatively low in calories – A standard single measure of Scotch whisky, which is 25ml, contains just 55 calories, making it lower in calories than a slice of thick white bread.