A Brief History of Moonshine: New Whisky Boutique Pop Up

Written by: Sophie Taylor

Monks have a lot to answer for don’t they. Back in 1000-1200, monasteries ran out of grapes. As we’re all a big bunch of winos, distilleries had to get creative. Stumbling across some grain mash, they fermented the heck out of it, bypassing beer and the whole craft ale scene, and created the first modern whisky.

A few 350 years later shit got mainstream when burly ol’ Henry VIII threw his weight around and dissolved the monasteries in Scotland. Newly unemployed monks were forced to start private production of whisky and soon spread their knowledge across entire Scotland. True story.

Blind drunk

What the early distillers didn’t realise was the bad element in the spirit (methanol) which is raw antifreeze. Drinking this turned people blind and gave birth to the (personally) well known expression, ‘blind drunk’.

Satan’s poison

Whisky barrels lose over a quarter of their contents to evaporation during manufacture. This is known as the angel’s share. What’s left is called the devil’s’ choice.

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Moonshine

Barrels are not rotated or moved when the whisky is laid down. All barrels in a warehouse are laid in one direction: East to West. The moon’s gravitation pull moves the liquid around the barrel, setting a current going in the barrel which mixes the liquid. But the reason whisky’s most popular nickname is Moonshine is due to taxes.

New harsh taxes on any unlicensed alcohol brewery greatly reduced production of whisky in entire Northern Europe. Scottish brewers started producing their beverage illegally and thousands of secret distilleries started making whisky all across northern England, often working only during night when low visibility hid the smokes from their fires. During this period whisky received the famous nickname “moonshine”.

Want to know more fascinating Devil’s choice facts? Educate yourself and get the perfect gift for your special whisky lover (or yourself) in North London this month. From the 12th to the 23rd December, Ancient Reserves are popping up in Islington with a Whisky Boutique shop giving you the LD on that moon mixed fermented grain mash. Get expert tastings, advice, bottle engravings and free gift wrapping with free entry throughout the day. Innovative and intimate whisky inspired events are ticketed in the evenings, including a tea and whisky pairing session led by Miss Whisky and luxury non-alcoholic drinks connoisseurs, Benjamin and Blum Teas.

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So if you’ve always wanted to know how your nose works and just why the heck whisky tastes that way, why not join one of Scotland’s best loved whisky distillers, William Grant & Sons at their temporary two week home. Sample exclusive whiskies like Ailsa Bay, The Girvan Patent Still, Rare Cask Reserves and Kininvie.

Where: 53 Barnsbury Street, London, N1 1TP

When: Monday 12th December – Friday 23rd December

Daytime Opening – 12pm to 7:30pm

Evening Events – 8pm to 10pm

Cost: Free during daytime opening, Evening events between £15 & £20

Peruse all the different events here.

Search @Ancient_ReservesWS on Instagram or #WhiskyBoutique on Twitter to find out more.

Tickets are selling out fast, so get yourself booked merry.

Photos via Alwynne’s Insta.

Whisky facts via Joachim Farncombe from Methods Unsound

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