Whiskey has a long and august history, being one of the most recognizable forms of distilled spirit in the world. The name for Whiskey comes from Gaelic, where it used to be called Uisce na Beatha, or “The Water of Life”. It wasn’t long before the name got shortened to Uisce (Merely “Water”) and then the pronounciation slowly changed over time from Ish-Key, to Whiskey. Thus it has remained ever since.
History of International Whisk(e)y Day
The history of International Whiskey day is necessarily intrinsically tied to the history of Whiskey, so let’s start there. Whiskey is the result of a distillation process, a chemical/alchemical process known as far back in history as Babylon. While we don’t know if they created a beverage quite as wonderful as modern day whiskey, it was known that the process was available to them.
All whiskey starts with a ‘mash’, a mixture of grain and water that is slowly heated to bread down the starch in it into sugars. The result of this process is then known as a wort, and is just the beginning of this amazing drinks journey. What kind of grain you use determines what kind of Whiskey you end up with.
Bourbon starts from a mash that is 51% or more corn base, though it becomes a Corn Whiskey once it reaches 81%. Malt whiskey is made from 51% malted barley, while Rye is 51% plain Rye. Malted Rye is a specialized version made from a base of Malted Rye, and Wheat Whiskey, as you might suspect, is made from Wheat. All of these are considered kinds of whiskey!
So where did International Whiskey Day come from? Well it was first announced in 2008, and celebrated in 2009 at the Whiskey Festival in the Northern Netherlands. This was all done in honor of Michael Jackson. No, not the King of Pop, but a man well known for his writings on Whiskey. The purpose isn’t just the raising of awareness of whiskey and its charms, but also to spread awareness for Parkinson’s, a disease that Michael suffered from in his later years.
How to celebrate International Whisk(e)y Day
Well, the obvious way to celebrate this holiday is to imbibe your favorite variety of Whiskey. Even better, get together with friends and introduce each other to your favorites, and maybe check out a few new vintages. While you’re at it, be sure that everyone gets home safe, the best way to celebrate International Whiskey Day is drinking responsibly, and making sure everyone can talk about it again tomorrow.
Don’t forget to make a donation to your favorite Parkinson’s charity while you’re at it!