The New Student's Reference Work/Whisky

Whis′ky, a spirit or liquor distilled usually from grain of some kind, originating probably among the Celtic inhabitants of Ireland and Scotland, as the name is from the Celtic, meaning water of life. It was first known as aqua vitæ (water of life) and used only as a medicine, and was first used as a drink in Scotland in the 17th century. The tax on whisky, imposed partly for revenue but largely to reduce its use, resulted in evasions of the tax by illegal manufacture and smuggling. Whisky was first made from malted barley by distillation (q. v.), but can be made from any grain or even from potato-starch or grape-sugar. In the United States it is made largely from corn and rye. A great deal of whisky is made into alcohol, gin and French brandy. Whisky is nearly colorless when made, but grows red from the wood of the barrels in which it is kept, which are usually charred to help to darken it. It is improved by age. Over 50,000,000 gallons a year are made and consumed in Great Britain, besides beer and wine. In the United States the tax on whisky is one of the greatest sources of revenue to the government. The total production of whisky, distilled spirits and fermented liquors in the United States in 1906 was 180,860,926 gallons. About 45,000,000 gallons of whisky are made annually in this country.