Whiskey Factoids

With the 6 grains that are used in whiskey making and the approximately 2000 strains of yeast, there are 2.2 trillion flavor combinations! By comparison, in wine making, there are a mere 3 million flavor possibilities.

Japanese whisky makers rarely trade casks with one another due to how competitive the market is.

Frank Sinatra was buried with a pack of cigarettes, a roll of dimes (in case he had to make a phone call), and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.

Suntory has created its very own yeast strain: Suntoryeus Lactobacillus.

According to the Kentucky Distillers Association 95 per cent of all bourbon whiskey is produced in Kentucky. (So where does the other 5% come from?)

During World War II, many distilleries were converted in order to make fuel and penicillin.

During the covid pandemic, many distilleries made hand sanitizer.

Kentucky is home to more barrels of maturing bourbon than people.

However, with a population of 5.4 million, and more than 20 million barrels of whisky in store, Scotland has almost four casks of whisky per citizen.

Mountain Dew, invented in Tennessee by moonshiners was originally meant to be a whisky chaser.

The co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson, demanded whisky on his deathbed but was refused it.

While filming in the Congo, the majority of the cast of The African Queen became sick with dysentery from drinking the water. Director John Huston and actor Humphrey Bogart emerged unscathed, allegedly because they drank nothing but whisky throughout.

Some people believe bourbon was named after Bourbon County in Kentucky. Others believe it was named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a major port for trading whiskey.

In certain Latin American countries, people say ‘whisky’ instead of ‘cheese’ when posing for photographs.

The Jack Daniel’s distillery is located in a ‘dry county’, meaning alcohol sales therein are prohibited. An exception has been made for the distillery.

There was a whisky rebellion in Pennsylvania in 1794 due to whisky taxing. The tax was eventually repealed in 1802.

Charles Joughin, the baker on-board the doomed Titanic, trod water for three hours before being rescued. He claimed he hadn’t succumbed to the cold due to the amount of whisky he had drunk prior to the accident, while the ship was sinking.

In 1956, Whiskey replaced William in the NATO phonetic alphabet.

The average measure of whisky contains just 64 calories – fewer than a banana. (Curiously, a number of Tennessee Whiskeys have the aroma of banana.)

Nikola Tesla drank whisky every day because he thought that it would make him live for 150 years.

One large oak tree is said to yield enough wood for approximately three 60-gallon casks.

In order to finish the screenplay for the Blue Dahlia, writer Raymond Chandler drank whisky for eight days while being supervised by six secretaries, a nurse and a doctor.

Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States, not just Kentucky.

If bourbon is aged for more than two years but less than four, it must bear an age statement on the label. (Several Tennessee distilleries produce bourbon)

Joe Sheridan, a head chef in Foynes, County Limerick claims to have invented and named the Irish Coffee. A group of American passengers disembarked from a Pan Am flying boat on a miserable winter evening in the 1940s, so Sheridan added whiskey to their coffee. When they asked if they were being served Brazilian coffee, Sheridan replied, ‘No, Irish coffee”.

During the malting process, the barley was traditionally turned with a shovel to promote even malting and reduce the tangling of barley sprouts. As a result of this repetitive motion maltsters suffered a condition which caused one arm to hang lower than the other – known as monkey shoulder.

A royal footman who poured whisky into the Queen’s corgis’ water bowl as a party trick was demoted and had his salary cut.

The Suntory Yamazaki distillery’s first master distiller, Masataka Taketsuru, studied in Scotland before deciding to bring the craft home to Japan.

Whisky in Gaelic is ‘uisge beathe’, which means ‘water of life’.

In June 1875, a bonded warehouse in the Liberties caught fire, and rivers of burning whiskey flowed through the streets of Dublin like lava. Titled The Great Dublin Whiskey Fire, the disaster resulted in the tragic loss of 13 lives and 1,900 casks of whiskey.

George Washington was the only founding father to commercially operate a distillery. It was one of the biggest distilleries of its time, but was unfortunately destroyed by a fire a few years after opening.

Iceland is home to just two whisky distilleries, both of which use sheep manure in place of coal/peat as a fuel for kilning barley. Stinky!

Jack Daniel ran away from his stepmother at the age of six and learned to distill whisky from an enslaved man named Nathan ‘Uncle Nearest’ Green who was “owned” by a Lutheran minister. Uncle Nearest invented the Lincoln County Process which gives Tennessee whiskey its smoothness. After emancipation, Mr. Green became the first master distiller at Jack Daniel in Lynchburg, Tennessee. A number of his descendants have continued to work there ever since.

Some distillers are looking beyond traditional grains in the production of whisky. Nashville-based Corsair produced an expression distilled from red and white quinoa grains.

Both “Whisky” and “Whiskey” are correct. “Whiskey” is specific to Irish and by extension, American spirits. “Whisky” is used when describing Scotch. The Tennessee distillery, Cascade Hollow who produce George Dickel, prefer the ‘whisky’ spelling.

Whiskey is the official state beverage of Alabama.

Diabetics’ urine can be transformed into whiskey due to high sugar content.

Drinking Whiskey can prevent cancer and also reduces possibilities of heart diseases.

Charles Dickens used both whiskey and whisky in “The Pickwick Papers”.

The leading whiskey drinkers in the world are the French.

Before the maturation process in the cask, Whiskey is completely colorless. Moonshine, aka white lightning is clear, unaged whiskey.

Un-aged American whiskey is often called ‘white dog’.

Whiskey comprises more than double the flavor components of its nearest competitors – Rum and Cognac.

The evaporation of alcohol from a Whiskey barrel during maturation is referred to as the ‘Angel’s Share’.

Jack Daniel’s is the oldest registered distillery in America.

Let the debate end here: Jack Daniel’s is Tennessee whiskey, not bourbon.