Whiskey has been known by many names down through the years. In the book “The Truths about whisky”, there is no reference to the spelling Whiskey….with an e. That was published in 1879 (and recently re-published for Teeling Whiskey Company). We can get into an argument of where the e came from but we may save that for another day but, take note, there was no e in Irish whiskey once. Before the word whisky appears we had “fuisce”. Whisky is obviously an anglicisation of that gaelic word. Before fuisce we had Uisce Beatha, the water of life, and this is where most people stop. Uisce beatha is a common enough term that most will recognise but where did it come from?? It came from the term, Aqua Vitae, the latin for water of life. This term first made an appearance in the Red Book of Ossory in 1324 where the Bishop of Ossory, Richard De Ledrede wrote a recipe for this aqua vitae which was actually first intended as an internal and topical “cure all”. So whether you like it or not, I now claim Whisky/Whiskey as an Irish creation! Aqua Vitae. Uisce Beatha. Fuisce. Whisky. Its obvious, isn’t it?!
So it was no surprise that when this was discovered that people started researching on it, none more than Chris Hennessy, the head bartender of The Dylan Whiskey Bar and Whiskey Guild Ambassador of the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild. Chris said today that he became fascinated when he read about Aqua Vitae on reading about it in Fionnan O Connors book, A Glass Apart. Chris, along with Jarrod Cuffe the founder of Off The Cuffe bitters, have been working on a project for three years and in the next two weeks, the fruits of their labour come to market in the form of Aqua Vitae. For those of you who know Chris, he is a fountain of vast knowledge across several areas of the drinks industry. An expert at cocktail creation, he is renowned for using some of the finest ingredients in his creations and this Aqua Vitae is no different. Instead of using standard botanicals, Chris and Jarrod opted for only organic ones, staying true to the original 14th Century recipe. Using a pot still spirit of 50% barley and 50% malted barley, they have created a 50% ABV. spirit drink which has been all but dead for several hundred years. Due to using 100% organic botanicals, the maceratation pulls out all the oils, moisture and sweetness. There is no added sugar.
Launching on the 26th of November in Dublin, this will be available through Off the Cuffe bitters. The wholesale price comes in at a very reasonable €50 for 500ml and it is hoped that this will become commercially available next year in some of the usual retailers. And I must say, it is a serious cool looking bottle and label!
Until it is launched at the end of the month, please join us on Twitter next Friday night at 7pm for the #FridayNightDram where we will be having an exclusive first look and live tasting using both my own twitter page, and the @TalkDram page.