Whisky

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Whisky (Scottish English) or whiskey (Hiberno-English) is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn). Whisky is aged in wooden casks, made generally of white oak, except that in the United States corn whiskey need not be aged.

Whisky is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many competing denominations of origin and many classes and types. The unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation, and aging in wood.

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Etymology

Whiskey is a shortened form of usquebaugh, which English borrowed from Gaelic (Irish uisce beatha and Scottish uisge beatha). This compound descends from Old Irish uisce, "water", and bethad, "of life" and meaning literally "water of life". It meant the same thing as the Latin aqua vītae which had been applied to distilled drinks since early 14th century. Other early spellings include usquebea (1706) and iskie bae (1583). In the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise in 1405, the first written record of whiskey appears describing the death of a chieftain at Christmas from "taking a surfeit of aqua vitae". In Scotland, the first evidence of whisky production comes from an entry in the Exchequer Rolls for 1494 where malt is sent "To Friar John Cor, by order of the king, to make aquavitae".[1]

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