History of Scotch: Take Time Travel to the Remarkable Journey of your Favourite Malt Whisky!
Scotch, the competitive intoxicant drink actually goes by the name Scotch Whisky. Originated in Scotland, it has got that name. When you know that wheat not only serves the gut of a hungry human as bread, it also serves the alcohol palate of a h-angry human. You got that right when you already know that Scotch whisky is made out of wheat, and to be precise a grass variety.
Well, that's a lot to process in one single paragraph. A fan of whisky here, who doesn't like the taste though, is now even more eager to dig into the barrels of the drink, getting dizzy through its history. A brief point to be noted here that in this research process I came to know about some interesting cocktail mixes using Scotch, which will be shared at the end of the article.
Let us first clarify the toddler confusion of the commonality and the difference between Butterscotch and Scotch. They are definitely not the same. Butterscotch is made of less polished brown sugar and butter similar to caramel and toffee. It's the hardened version of them. Scotch is a type of whisky made with more authenticity in Scotland, while whisky is a similar drink made anywhere and everywhere. There is a special section in this article totally talking about it.
So, read on to know since when are we drowning in the sea of whisky.
Scotch's Remarkable Journey
The earliest mention of Scotch was in an order placed by the King and its receipt mentioned in the logbook. The popular accounts and finance handler of the Kingdoms, the Exchequer had maintained rolls of income and expenditure. It is in the year 1494, 1st of June, the receipt mentioned malt being given to a distiller to make barrels of "Aqua vitae". The word translates to "water of life".
Native Scottish are also referred to as the Gaelic who coined the origin of the term for whisky, the "water of life". Medicinal tonics and spirits consumed as intoxicating drinks have been the norm. But, making a drink out of the liquid used to make gunpowder ingredients moist, is the way of the Scottish legends. That was the first use of whisky before it was bottled up and aged in shelves to consumption.
Monasteries, the places where monks and nuns spend their lives away from the materialistic lives, were the places of Whisky distillation. Way to attain inner peace, which still applies to the hermit babas of marijuana high on the smoke of spirituality. These distillation centres were patronised by the kings and queens.
The Scottish king of the first half of the 16th century, King James IV, made this gunpowder whisky his most favourite drink. The wars of those times dethroned this king and coronated King Henry the VIII. The King of England now had a new rule. No more monasteries and no more free distilleries, so they did what they do best. They imposed taxes on malt and the skilled monks and nuns who if tried to open their own spirit making stations will be criminalised.
The first-ever malt tax was imposed in the year 1644. One thing for sure, we can learn from history is that, when the law is stricter, the people become smarter. It happened here once again when the people found new ways to illegally produce whisky. The whole place was divided into Highland and Lowlands when talking about whisky exports. The highlands usually escaped from the taxation but had distilleries infertile lands with plenty of water sources.
They had used more malt in the making of whisky and hence was considered better quality than of the lowlands. Lowlanders were monitored by the law, were given licences and are supposed to stick to the rules of quantity limitation of the drink. And hence they used more grain, which was devoid of such tax, in making whisky. Along came the Excise Act of 1823, by the Parliament of England, shutting down many Highland distilleries.
Whenever an act evolves, people come up with loopholes. The Highland distilleries owners agreed to pay the fine to the Crown to continue to operate their stills, now legally. For which the penalty was letting go of all the farmers, and farm help, who were left jobless and hopeless. These were the famous "clearances" of their estates.
Now the people who were let go had immense skills and managing abilities, so they joined hands in making this move. George Smith, a farmer in the year 1824 obtained the first licence apart from the estate owners. His company named Glenlivet Distillery was opened for the authentic making of single-malt Scotch. Many such independent distilleries and licences were sanctioned during that time. Many of which are still operational to this day.
The Scotch Whisky and its popularity went uphill from thereon. It was at these times, people also turned to be inventors. The pot stills which were the most commonly used ones came with a tedious task of cleaning them thoroughly after every batch. Sir Anthony Perrier was the first one to try a still of different shape, but he couldn't make the best out of his innovations.
But, Aeneas Coffey combined the designs of Robert Stein and Anthony, to create the patented Column Still. This invention solved the manual labour stress as it comes with little supervision and facilitates a continuous distillation process, undisturbed. Becoming the most economical invention in the making, this still was commercialised.
One direct effect that has pushed the Scotch to heights was the invention. One indirect effect that also helped in pushing was the Phylloxera Beetle. No, do not worry, Scotch does not use the cat-excreta- supreme-quality- coffee method with this beetle. Scotch would never try to mimic Kopi Luwak, it would be a betrayal of the alcoholic fraternity and sorority trust.
Coming to the beetle in the story here, this beetle happens to be a fan of wine and vineyards. The French who were peaking in their wine productions were hit by this beetle, drastically affecting their wine production. The infestation opened up the market for Scotch and it never looked back from then. Wine, however, still gained its base in a few years and is still distinctively celebrated.
Law that Differentiates Scotch Whisky
It is that serious when we read a heading that says, a law is enacted to differentiate between what is normal whisky and what is Scotch Whisky. The regulations that are called the Scotch Whisky Regulations or SWR came into force on the 23rd of November 2009.
That is just about 11 years ago, and unknowingly I feel grateful. especially to the government to have made this decision keeping in mind the young school-goers of that time who might be future fans of the beverage. I'm touched by the concern you had for us right from our childhood. I'm sure we all are.
Based on the definitions and regulations laid by the SWR, Scotch Whisky's production is subjected to only Scotland. Maturing and Flavouring of the Scotch too must be done in Scotland. It will have the distinctive Caramel glazed golden colour, with its natural habitat flavours. And shall thrive at a minimum of 40% alcohol by volume at all times. Yes, you stop it. You are making me a mushy bun with all this concern.
So, that is how Scotch is different from just Whisky.
Various Malts and Blends of Scotch
The Infamous Single Malt Scotch is distilled using a single variety of malted barley, distilled at a single pot station. By the way, the process of malting involves soaking the barley or similar cereals in water. Waiting for them to just start germinating and then drying them with air that is significantly above room temperature. And then using these malted seeds as they are or by mashing them for distillation.
There is another type of single malt which is the un-blended version of using two or three different types of single malt scotches. This is done with combining scotches aged varied, by storing them in caskets undisturbed for years. The natural process takes its course in blending them and no human's interference is seen. These are often the subcategories of Single Malt, called the Double wood and Triple wood.
An important tip to remember is that they should never be confused with double or triple malt, ever.
Single Grain Malt Scotch is a mixture of barley malt with other grain malts, distilled at a single column still. There is no mixture of malts from various places. Single often refers to the place of malting and distillation.
Blended Malt Whisky is the combination of malts prepared at several places distilled together as a single batch. This often has mixtures of differently aged malts, with the youngest of them representing the whole mixture. So, the word Single must also be removed from the label. If the label says only Blended Scotch then there are chances that malts of multiple grains were used.
People take their Scotch very seriously and hence the authentic Scotch if tried to be mimicked through adulteration, it can be easily found out. The samples will be tested for 100 such compounds that prove that the Scotch is a fake one. And if proved guilty, there is severe punishment too.
Share with your friends the amazing history of the food you love