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World Whisky Day: 7 things you didn't know about the "wine of Wall Street"

Image: 123RF/Wavebreak Media Ltd

Tomorrow marks World Whisky Day, yay! Founded in 2012, it’s celebrated on the third Saturday of May each year.

While it’s definitely an excuse to indulge in the drink in celebration, it also means now is a good time to brush up on your knowledge of the drink that is apparently called “The Wall Street Wine”.

The origins of whisky can be traced back over 1000 years ago, when distillation methods migrated from mainland Europe into Scotland and Ireland via travelling monks. The holy men, because they lacked the vineyards and grapes found on continental Europe, fermented grain mash, which is how the first distillations of modern whisky came about.

Want to know more? Here are seven other interesting facts to know about whisky. Cheers!

1. So is it Whisky or Whiskey?

Both. You like your Scottish brands like Johnnie Walker? Then ‘ky’ for you. However if the Irish do it better for you, then it’s spelt "whiskey" with an “ey”. Here eMzansi, chose to follow the Scots.

2. Ok, and how long can I keep my special bottle?

A whisky can live beyond a century. That’s right, a closed bottle of whisky can be kept for more than 100 years and the day your offspring decide to drink their heirloom, it will still be good as ever.

3. Wait, what? Whisky is beer?!

Well, not exactly....but it is beer that got a graduate degree...sort of. To distill whisky, you actually first have to make beer, so essentially, whisky is beer that’s been distilled two or three times.

4. Is that where the colour comes from?

The color of whisky comes from the wooden barrels in which it is aged. As the whisky matures, the wood expands and contracts with the change in temperature, with the compounds from the wood giving whisky its dark color.

5. How old does the "beer"need to be, to be whisky?

So after whiskey graduates from being a beer, it still needs to age for three years. This is the minimum requirement for a Scottish whisky to even think about qualifying to become a Scotch.

6. What about the alcohol that evaporates?

Sad as it is, some of the alcohol evaporates during the process, and that alcohol actually has a name: Angel’s share. In Scotland and Ireland, this share for the angels accounts for approximately 2% of the contents of each cask each year, but the amount is even higher in warmer climates.

7. Alright, anything else?

We're sure by now you've either seen the ad, or seen the billboards with our Trevor Noah telling us to "keep walking". Well, Trevor is not the first to do it because the famous striding man seen on a bottle of Johnnie Walker was first drawn in 1908. However, he only started to appear on the packaging from the 1950s and then in 1999, he changed his striding direction for the launch of the Keep Walking campaign. The campaign was about walking forwards into the new millennium. 

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