Whiskey Or Whisky? Whiskey or whisky (the spelling varies regionally) is simply the generic term for spirits that are barrel aged and distilled from grain. This is different from brandy (which is distilled from fruit) or rum (which is distilled from sugar/molasses) or vodka (which can be distilled from grain, but is not barrel aged).
Usually "whisky" (without the 'e') is used by the Scots and "whiskey" (with the 'e') is used by everybody else.
England, like Scotland, has a history of producing single malt whisky. However, the production of English single malt whisky ceased around 1905 with the closure of Lea Valley Distillery by the Distillers Company Limited (D.C.L.) now known as Diageo.
In the 1887 book The Whisky Distilleries of The United Kingdom by Alfred Barnard, the following English distilleries were listed:
- Lea Valley Distillery, Straford, London (founded in the late 19th century) - produced both grain and malt whisky.
- Bank Hall Distillery (Liverpool) - produced grain and malt whisky
- Bristol Distillery (founded in the 17th century) - produced grain whisky which was "sent to Scotland and Ireland to make a Blended Scotch and Irish whisky, for whisky purpose it is specially adapted, and stands in high favour".
- Vauxhall Distillery in Liverpool (founded in 1781) - produced grain whisky
But! Whiskey production is making a comeback
In 2003 St Austell Brewery & Healey Cyder Farm announced the first production of a "Cornish" single malt whisky in 300 years. Although no substantial evidence exists that whisky was ever produced in Cornwall it was the first commercial whisky to be produced in England in almost a century. The partnership released a 7 year old "whiskey" in September 2011.
The English Whisky Company founded by farmer James Nelstrop in 2006, started production and released a three-year-old product in 2009.
The Adnams Brewery in October 2010 began production of vodka and gin, but in 2011 started to lay down stock of new spirit to be aged into single malt whisky.
The London Distillery Company (TLDC) is a boutique artisanal aged spirits manufacturer, based in Battersea, London. (Wiki)
Quite interesting, if I do say so myself! Ha! So, why did whiskey makers fold up shop in the first place? Good question. A Man's Manual asked the same question back in 2010! I was able to find a great deal about heavy taxes imposed on whiskey distillers from the mid 1700's through the late 1800's (Cranntara.org), but most of these laws affected Scottish whiskey makers.
There are four countries which produce distinct whiskies, although whiskey is made all over the globe. About Dot Com Coctails explains each type and the history for anyone wanting to learn more.
* Ireland - Irish Whiskey
* Scotland - Scotch
* USA - Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, and Blended American Whiskey.
* Canada - Canadian Whiskey
In writing my latest historical, my hero may delve into whiskey making. What a blast I've had researching this topic! My lack of knowledge on the process of distilling is one thing - I imagine I'm not alone there. But I lacked even a basic understanding of the types of whiskey and where they came from. I've shortened this post to the basics. Barley farming and the malting process came earlier in the series, and I hope to feature another on distilling. There is simply too much information to feature all at once.