Alcohol and its influence has always had a great effect on the development of the human civilization. Whisky is made by the distillation of fermented grains. The art of distillation spread to Ireland and Scotland no later than the 15th century. Various grains (which may be malted) are used for different varieties, including barley, corn (maize), rye, and wheat. Whisky is typically aged in wooden casks, generally made of charred white oak.
Let's expedite through the history of whisky.
The art of distillation was founded in ancient Mesopotamia, where the usage was mainly of perfumes and aromatics.
Distillation slowly advanced from the continental Europe to the Irish and Scottish monasteries. The art of distillation makes the migration from mainland Europe into Scotland and Ireland via travelling monks. Inability to access grapes for the manufacture of wine, local distilleries focused their efforts into fermenting of grain mash, resulting in the first distillations of modern whisky.
The earliest records of the distillation of alcohol were traced in Italy.
The first written record of 'whisky' appeared in the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise, where it was written that the head of a clan died after consuming excessive amount of 'aqua vitae' on Christmas.
When King Henry VIII of England dissolved the monasteries, the production of whisky shifted to the general public, making a large number of monk's independent and looking for new ways to make a living in the form of distillation.
The European colonists began to arrive in America. They brought with them the practice of distilling whisky. Many Scottish and Irish immigrants settled in their new territories, eventually beginning to distill their new types of grains and mash. In this century, Irish 'Old Bush Mills Distillery' was set up, which is regarded as the first licensed whisky distillery in the world.
The Acts of Union resulted in the merging of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland creating Great Britain, causing a dramatic surge in taxes. The English Malt Tax of 1725 threatened the production of whisky gravely, and led the majority of Scottish distilleries to head underground. This caused the production to begin at night, giving whisky one if its finest nicknames, 'moonshine'.
The United Kingdom brought 'moonshine' production to an end when they gave Scottish distilleries an option to legalise their operations by paying a fee.
American Congress declared bourbon as country's official distilled spirit.
The American Whiskey Trail is launched to promote many of the historical sites, and to operate distilleries in Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New York.
The process of distilling fermented grain mash and aging it in oak barrels to make whisky has spread throughout the world, and has resulted in a remarkable range of styles, including single malt whisky, blended malt whisky, grain, rye.