Sound Smart About Whiskey. Here Are 18 Facts You Must Know

on 21/01/11 at 10:38 am


1. Whisky is not the same as Whiskey

There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distilleries are the only ones who can call (spell) their whisky, whisky. But the general consensus is this:

Whisky: Scottish only

Whiskey: Everyone else

Factoid: Scots spell it without the “e” because they believe more vowels waste good drinking time.

2. Whiskey is beer

Whiskey is beer (without the hops)* that’s been distilled two or three times.

From the American Distilling Institute: “To distill whiskey you first have to make beer. Beer is a technical term for whiskey wash, regardless of the type of raw ingredients used.”

Update: Actually, most of the Bourbon and Tennessee whiskeys are made using hops (as an antibacterial) to propagate their yeast. Jack Daniels recently stopped using hops. Some Canadian distilleries use hops. It’s only Ireland and Scotland that don’t.

3. Whiskey is taxed more than you are

More than 50 percent of the purchase price of a fifth of whiskey in the U.S. goes to taxes (federal, state and local). (Source)
4. Angels love whiskey

The “Angel’s share” or “Angel’s tax” refers to the 4% of whiskey that evaporates every year.

Angels “steal” 4% of the whiskey in a barrel every year. They want to make sure it’s OK before we drink it.

(Once you bottle whiskey, the angel’s can’t touch it. It doesn’t evaporate.)

5. How to calculate how rare your whiskey is

The oldest whiskey in the world is almost automatically most rare whiskey because of the annual 4% “angel’s tax.”

The buyer of a very old bottle is drinking a huge percentage of the only whiskey left on the earth from that year.

Here’s how to calculate how much whiskey is left over from each year. (It works like interest rates, but backwards.)

100 x (0.96) ^ years old = % of whiskey left on earth from that year.

Check out some super-aged bottles of whiskey here.

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