Whiskey History

Welcome to the San Antonio Whiskey blog. I won’t just be writing about San Antonio whiskey. In fact most of what I write will be about whiskey in general. But I will try to stay abreast of whiskey-related events happening in our city and let you know about them.

Speaking of beginnings, maybe this first post would be a good time to write about the beginning of whiskey itself.

The alchemists discovered the principle of distillation in their ongoing attempts to separate and join matter for their own purposes. Imagine the wonder they must have felt when they discovered that you could boil dirty water, collect the steam, cool it, and end up with crystal clear water for drinking. In the whole history of the world, that had never been done before. Once water was dirty it was useless. But no longer.

It must have seemed like magic. Hell it was magic.

Now I want you to imagine that fateful day when some alchemist (Why do I think it was probably a junior alchemist in training?) wondered what might happen if they distilled beer?

“Perhaps we can extract the spirit of happiness and intoxication from within the beer, where logic tells us it must reside, just as we extracted the clean water from the dirty water.”

And that’s exactly what happened. The distilled the beer and a clear liquid was collected in a vessel off to the side.

I wonder who was brave enough to taste it? Whoever it was got was the first in the world to taste Moonshine. White Lightening. The Greeks had been distilling wine since before the Christian era, but the first to distill a grain product may have been in Europe around 1000 ce, give or take a few centuries.

The first whiskey.

They called it Aqua Vitae, which means the Water of Life. The Gaelic translation of Water of Life was Uisce Beatha (Ush-ke-va) which later was shortened and became whiskey.

And there you have it. An amazing distilled spirit that indeed does seem to contain within it somehow the very spirit of life and joy and happiness.