08 July 2012

Researching For Romance ~ Whiskey Making

Whiskey production occurs around the globe, but in Jolly-Old-England, the tradition is being resurrected after more than a hundred years!

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. 

 ~ Nadja


  1. I'll stick to Ireland, Scotland, and Canada, LOL. I never did develop a taste for any of the American whiskeys.

    Fascinating stuff Nadja :)

    1. I'm not certain I ever developed a taste for any whiskey! Ha! Phew...I'm a lightweight. lol.

  2. Being somewhat of a light-weight, I haven't delved much into whiskey or whisky. I fear that I would take a shot a seriously have hair sprout on my chest. Sexy for a hunk of a guy...not so much for a lady :-)

    1. I've taken a nip or two in my day...but Arrgh! That's strong business. P.S. I haven't sprouted any hair on my chest as of yet...lol.

  3. That's all really interesting! That would be a cool vocation for a historical character.

    They make good old Jack Daniels right here in Tennessee! :)

    1. Ha! We've a friend who partakes of that particular spirit. Claims it's the best. I stick to Guinness usually. :} But every once in awhile...lol.

  4. I do love to research. It becomes a little bit of a lure, and hard for me to quit some subjects. The last few days I've read about Middle Ages, I Ching and donating plasma.

    I'm a wine drinker, but your research sounds interesting, Nadja!

    1. Wine is my favorite. My father has been making wine for years, so I've been fortunate to sample some great wines. We've gone on wine tours, which is great fun! Cabernet, Chianti, Pinot Grigio, and Gerwertztraminer are a few of my favorites. I'm not a fan of Shiraz - it's one of the few I never developed a taste for. :}

  5. As you may know, I rather enjoy research, particularly about the finer and learned thingys in life. I even share some tasty tidbit-like facts, usually in my sophisticated upper-class voice, especially about spirits and whiskey. Why? Because they're rather enjoyable to drink. Add to it some knowledge of the process, history, and notable people/places, and you've got one incredible situation. Hmm, yes, hmrather!

  6. Quite right, quite right. (spoken with my very best English)

    Ich habe keinen meine Deutche praxis mit. Perhaps we shall endeavor to partake enough to sprechen miteinander. Ha!

  7. Love this post! Darn those English, taxing the Scotch whisky! There are still so many I haven't tried, like Lagavulin... Jamie Fraser dabbles in whisky making in the Outlander books :-)