Listen up ladies, we’ve drank it, we revel in it and we pride ourselves in the bad-assery of our social circle around it, but what exactly is whiskey? Most simply, it is a spirit distilled from grain. Think of this as an umbrella, under which there are many different types of whiskey. We will elaborate on that fascinating process later on, but for now let’s see how we got here today.
So, where did whiskey come from? When wine was rare a find in Scotland and Ireland, the very resourceful monks began to practice distillation with what they had in abundance: barley wine. I would like to point out that we can attribute many of our lovely libations to monks (Cognac, Chartreuse, Chimay, etc.), without them our palates would be so lost. Distilling itself was in part pioneered to make perfume, and how much more ladylike can that get?
As far as consumption goes, its first purpose and use was medicinal. By 1608, Bushmill’s was the first established distillery, and trendsetters like Queen Elizabeth I helped to popularize Irish whisky as the fashionable beverage in England.
“… and trendsetters like Queen Elizabeth I helped to popularize Irish whisky as the fashionable beverage in England.”
Whiskey eventually made its way across the pond and began to make a home here. They used what they had plenty of, corn and rye, and birthed America’s native spirit, bourbon whiskey. When whiskey first made a splash in the states, it was definitely a man’s world. Saloons were the popular drinking holes of the day, and were establishments meant for men only, but not for long.
Despite its elimination and restriction on alcohol consumptions and distribution, let’s face it ladies, prohibition was good for us. The ever popular saloons few by the way side to the new, underground “speak easy,” where men and women were brought together to imbibe on what was available to them, much of which was bathtub gin and our beloved whiskey.
With the resurgence of period shows such as Mad Men, we see the ladies of our past knocking back whiskey and whiskey cocktails that have long since been associated with men. As with craft cocktails, we seemed to have gotten lost somewhere along the way and we are here to find our way back.
So grab a glass, pour yourself a couple fingers of whiskey and enjoy. After all, it’s what the Queen would do.