Whisky Facts and Figures
While a dram is a standard pub measure, The Wee Dram has an altogether different definition – the term can only be applied to a measure poured by a host, and its size is dependent not on HM weights and measures, but on the generosity of the host.
Approximately 2% of whisky maturing in casks evaporates each year. This evanescent gift is known as The Angels’ Share.
At any one time, at least 18 ½ million barrels of whisky are maturing in warehouses throughout Scotland – by any definition, a heady consideration!
A blended whisky contains anything from 15 to 50 different malt whiskies. The skill of the blender is to create character and consistency in the product – and to choose only the whiskies that complement each other.
Gin and vodka are not matured, but “rectified”. In the case of gin the dominant flavour must be juniper.
Whisky must be matured for a minimum of three years in Scotland to earn the name. Most Scotch whiskies are aged for much longer.
When whisky is laid down, it is colourless – the colour comes from the casks in which it matures.
The export value of the whisky industry is around £2 billion. This puts it in the top 5, accounting for almost 25% of all food and drink exports from the UK. A staggering 90% of all whisky sales are to the export market.
A sobering thought – 77% of the cost of a bottle of whisky sold in the UK is tax, making the UK government by far the biggest beneficiary.
Before Clark’s Hydrometer was introduced to measure the amount of alcohol present in a spirit, the original method of “proof” was to mix a measure of the whisky with gunpowder and ignite it; if it flashed, the spirit content passed muster!
The earliest reference to a distillery in Acts of Scottish Parliament is 1609 – the Ferintosh distillery at Culloden, owned by Duncan Forbes.
1618 – first known reference recorded to “uiskie.”
The word “whisky” comes from the Gaelic Uisge Beatha, or Usquebaugh, which means “water of life.”
The art of blending whisky was pioneered by Andrew Usher in 1860. 19th century malt whisky wasn’t matured long enough and was often fiery and coarse, while grain whisky was too mild. The inspiration to combine was the turning point, taking Scotland’s national treasure into the international arena.