World Whisky Day 2019: What it is, how to celebrate and a brief history of whisky

It is one of the world’s most loved spirits, with a history stretching back hundreds of years and across multiple countries.

Tuesday, 14th May 2019, 11:15 am
World Whisky Day takes place on Saturday 18 May (Photo: Shutterstock)
World Whisky Day takes place on Saturday 18 May (Photo: Shutterstock)

This year, World Whisky Day is taking place on Saturday 18 May, and people across the globe are being encouraged to try a dram and celebrate what the event’s official website calls “the water of life”.

What is World Whisky Day all about?

From Scotland to Japan, whisky is drunk around the world. For that reason, World Whisky Day dedicated to making whisky fun and accessible for everyone, rather than exclusive or prescriptive.

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All that you need, according to the expert organisers of World Whisky Day, is “a bottle of whisky to share with your friends”. The whisky itself can be drunk any way you like - be that with ice, neat, or with a mixer.

Even blended whiskies are welcome on World Whisky Day.

“We want to be all inclusive and that means any kind of whisky/whiskey from anywhere in the world,” says the World Whisky Day website.

History of whisky

Originating in either Ireland or Scotland, the secrets of the whisky distillation process was discovered after a family of doctors - the MacVeys (also know as the Beatons) - translated old Arabic medical texts which detailed the process.

Whisky has a long history in the Celtic nations, with Irish whiskey being made from as early as 1608 when Bushmills, the oldest officially licensed premises, was granted permission to make the spirit by King James I.

Scotch has also been distilled for hundreds of years in the six regions - Campbeltown, the Highlands and Islands, Islay, Lowlands and Speyside - with well-known brands such as Balvenie and Caol Ila sharing that history.

Whisky is popular worldwide, however, and Japanese whisky has become far more prominent and expensive in recent years. The first distillery in Japan, Yamazaki, was set up in 1923. Japanese whiskies are now considered some of the best in the world.

In America, the most popular type of whisky is Bourbon, traditionally made in Bourbon County in Kentucky. Made from at least 51 per cent corn in the mash, the spirit matures much faster than its Scottish cousin.

Other countries less known for their whisky also have the odd distillery, including England, Taiwan, South Africa and Canada.

Even places such as Sweden, India and France have tried their hand at making the alcohol, meaning there is something for everyone wherever you are on World Whisky Day.