Fans of the film The Lion In Winter will recall how on Christmas Day 1183 King Henry II of England (Peter O’Toole) and King Philip Augustus of France (Timothy Dalton) start a bad boys’ one upmanship contest about whose country distils the best spirits. Funny-but was that possible?
Wikipedia * traces the origins of distilling spirits to the thirteenth, not the twelfth century. Perhaps the real Henry and Philip missed by a generation. But once it got going, there was no stopping humanity. Since then we have invented brandy,gin, vodka and rum-but most agree that whisky is the real king of spirits. We can’t resist the amazing origins of the word, here summarised by Wikipedia: *
The word whisky (or whiskey) is an anglicisation of the Classical Gaelic word uisce (or uisge) meaning “water” (now written as uisce in Modern Irish, and uisge in Scottish Gaelic). This Gaelic word shares its ultimate origins with Germanic “water” and Slavic “voda” of the same meaning. Distilled alcohol was known in Latin as aqua vitae (“water of life”). This was translated into Old Irish as uisce beatha, which became uisce beatha in Irish and uisge beatha[ˈɯʃkʲə ˈbɛhə] in Scottish Gaelic. Early forms of the word in English included uskebeaghe (1581), usquebaugh (1610), usquebath (1621), and usquebae (1715).[
Since when the drink has cropped up in books, films, songs and advertising the world over. Who can forget the two doomed Japanese officers musing over a looted bottle of Johnnie Walker in Letters from Iwo Jima? Malcolm Macdowell’s desperate tippling in Aces High? Talking of Timothy Dalton, James Bond loved his Scotch, as the link from The Gentleman’s Journal makes clear.*
Even though it’s made all around the world, somehow it is inevitably associated with that strange thing called Scottishness. You know-golf, shortbread, mist, mountains, tartan, aberdeen angus, and a monster sporting in the grey waters of the nearby loch. You can pay anything from thousands to a few dollars for a bottle. But real experts advise a good mid-price brand, something like Highland Park or Glenfiddich, and sticking to it. Mainly they drink it neat, or with a little soda and ice. And we are largely going to respect that. But, as this is ostensibly a cocktail column, we’ll leave you with one recipe, the whisky sour, adapted from that great book The Bartender’s Guide by Peter Bohrman (Greenwich).
In a shaker add five icecubes and 1.5 measures of whisky. Add juice of 1/2 lemon, and two teaspoons of sugar syrup. Finally three drops of Angostura bitters. Shake vigously and pour to a chilled cocktail glass, sans ice. Decorate with slice of orange and 1 maraschino cherry.
Enjoy your Friday Night!
#whisky #whiskey #cocktails #scotland #lochnessmonster #gaelic #highlands