Name: Whiskey literally means: "water of life" (aqua vitae)... I can't argue with that!
Origins: Distillation of fruit goes back to the 2nd century BC. Distillation was brought from Africa to Europe by the Moors and around 1100 and 1300, distillation spread in Ireland and Scotland.
Because grapes don't grow well that far north, barley (the 4th most produced cereal grain in the world) was used to make beer, resulting in the development of whisky. These 1st whiskeys would have been harsh, strong and dangerous due to the fact they they were not diluted. It wasn't until someone had the bright idea to store these spirits in wooden barrels did we start down the path of modern day whiskey.
- 1405 was the first written record of whisky appears describing a death at Christmas from "taking a surfeit of aqua vitae".
- A licence to distill in Northern Ireland was granted to Sir Thomas Phillipps in 1608 by King James I, and the 1608 date is printed on the labels of the Bushmills brand whiskey making it the oldest brand of whiskey.
- Rioting broke out in 1794 after Alexander Hamilton began taxing Whiskey and the president at the time (George Washington), sent troops to quell the rioting..