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Whisky

wines, spirits, neutral, corn, grain, straight, potable and strength

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WHISKY: as the word is generally understood to-day, is spirit of potable strength obtained by distillation from the fermented solutions of various grains—rye, corn, barley, wheat, etc.—as brandy is of fruits, principally of wine, i. e., grapes. An important exception to this generalization is that grain spirit flavored with juniper berries is the product known as GIN ( which see).

The word "Whisky" is derived from an old Irish and Scotch word Usquebaugh (pronounced "Whisky-bay"), derived from the Gaelic Uisge, meaning "water," and Beatha meaning " (of ) life." The same idea is conveyed in the French name for Brandy—Eau de Vie, which also signifies "water of life." The title Usquebaugh was further applied in Ireland to a drink prepared by digesting raisins, etc., in spirit.

The different varieties of American Whisky are due primarily to (1) the different grains used or the different combinations of grains, and (2) the degree to which dis tillation is carried.

To properly explain the difference between "Straight," "Blended" and "Redis tilled" whiskies, one must use the distillery phrases of "High Wines" and "Neutral Spirits." The first distillation from the old pot-still is known as "Low Wines," and consists of a liquid containing about two-thirds water arid one-third alcohol, together with various undesirable grain ingredients. Low Wines redistilled—once, twice or sev eral times, according to the distillery equipment or policy and the degree of refinement desired—produce "High Wines," a much stronger product and with the "impurities" considerably reduced. In general modern manufacture, these distillations are made by a single continuous process—the Low Wines, while still in vapor form, passing into additional "chambers" and there being redistilled into High Wines. This High Wines, when water is added to reduce it to potable strength, is new Straight Whisky. It is at this stage a harsh, unpalatable product because of the congeneric substances ("fusel oil") contained, but aging in wood for three or four years overcomes this defect.

If, instead of condensing the vapors which form High Wines, they are passed through other chambers until practically all the congeneric substances have been eliminated or "neutralized," the result is "Neutral Spirits." "Rectified Spirits," "Redistilled Spirits," etc., are essentially the same as Neutral Spirits.

Blended Whisky is sometimes a blend of two or more varieties of High Wines reduced to potable strength, but is generally a mixture of High Wines and Neutral Spirits. The High Wines is used for the character it imparts to the blend, and the

Neutral Spirits to modify the harshness of the new High Wines.

Redistilled Whisky is Neutral Spirits reduced to potable strength, flavored and colored, either by aging in wood or by the addition of caramel coloring and fruit juice flavoring, etc.

Compound Whisky is a mixture of any kind of whisky with distillates from other sources, as molasses, etc.

Other terms descriptive of American Whisky are : Rye Whisky: in which Rye is the predominating grain.

Bourbon Whisky (so-called because first made in Bourbon County, Ky.), in which corn (maize) is the predominating grain.

Corn Whisky : in which corn is the only grain used except the Malt employed for diastatic purposes.

Malt Whisky : principally or entirely from malted grain.

Straight Whisky may be either Rye, Bourbon, Corn or Malt.

Blended Whisky may be either Rye, Bourbon, Malt or Corn "High Wines"—or all four—blended with, each other or with "Neutral Spirits" and reduced to potable strength.

Whisky in wood" is that in which the distinctive color and flavor are due either wholly or in part to the extractive matters from the barrels in which it is allowed to rest—instead of these two characteristics being otherwise produced. High class Blended and. all Straight whiskies are so aged to a greater or less extent.

The use of Neutral Spirits is resorted to in the manufacture of a majority of popu lar price whiskies, because it decreases the cost of producing a marketable liquor. The unpleasant smell and taste of new Straight Whisky entirely disappear if it is stored for some years in wood casks, being succeeded by the amber hue and rich flavor so agreeable to connoisseurs—the "fusel oil" is still present, but it has lost the charac teristics which render it objectionable to nostrils and palate—but to wait several years before marketing a product of this volatile character is to greatly enhance its expense by the loss in volume incurred and by tying up capital for that length of time. By blend ing with a sufficient quantity of Neutral Spirits, the fusel oil taste and smell are at once considerably modified. The next step is the addition of caramel (burnt sugar), which gives the desired color. By these methods a whisky, acceptable for ordinary purposes and equally wholesome when the product of reputable manufacturers, can be marketed With much less delay.

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