Water of Life: Different Types of Whiskey

People have so many questions about whiskey. Why is it called water of life, why are there so many types of whiskey, and what makes the clear liquid turn brown? Haskell's President Ted Farrell helps clear up the confusion in this edition of Quick Pours.

Why Is It Called Water of Life?

The meaning of "whiskey" is very simple. It's the Gaelic word for "water of life," and that's because there is so much life in a good whiskey. And a long time ago, they had some wet grains and they distilled it and what popped out was a nice, clear distillate (you know, moonshine), and if you took a sip of it, you'd feel some life to it, and feel better.

What Types of Whiskey?

The type of whiskey is determined by where it comes from. There's Scotch Whiskey, there's Bourbon Whiskey, and there's Canadian Whiskey. The big difference is that each different country had an overabundance of different grains that they used to distill that particular "juice."

Canadian Whiskeys can have all kinds of rye, or they can have corn, or they can have wheat. Scotch Whiskeys have lots of barleys and similar grains. And our American Whiskeys may have corn.

Why is Whiskey Brown?

Once you get done distilling, you do get a clear liquid, much like moonshine, but most whiskey is brown because they store it in barrels. Depending how long it sits in the barrel, you will get that wonderful caramel hue, that brown deliciousness that you see in each bottle. And that's the big kicker, as it sits in that barrel, it gets all the flavor along with color that's sapped out of the oak.

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