The History of Booze and Distillation
It’s been suggested that distillation may have originated in Mesopotamia 2,000 years BC. The purpose would have been to produce perfumes and aromatics. However, this appears to be highly speculative.
The beginnings of distillation are attributed to the Arabs, as they came up with the idea of pure distillation, somewhere around the 8th – 9th centuries. Surprisingly for these people who are not allowed to drink, they took their passion quite seriously and found pleasure in distilling alcohol and making only pure, great alcoholic beverages. Distillation existed in the area since 500 B.C., but you can thank chemistry, especially that performed by Persian and Arabs, for what distillation is today.
The word itself, however, comes from the Latin “de-stillare”, which basically meant the process of separating the liquid by vaporization and condensation; Aristotle was, actually, one of the first people who suggested the idea of distilling spirits (thou, the world had to wait for the Arabs to implement it).
Now, if you are also curious about the word “alcohol”, then you will be happy to know it was used in the English vocabulary since the 16th century. The term, however, traces its roots back to the Arabic “al-kohl”, with “al” meaning “the” and “kohl” representing that powder used as eyeliner by ladies (a term still in use today). “Al-kohl” (or “alcohol”, as we use it today), would, hence, start as a medical solution to ail the eyes. It became more of what is known of it today – meaning a liquor – only somewhere in the 18th century.
Around 100 AD, the Greek philosopher Alexander of Aphrodisias described in unclear terms how to distill fresh water from sea water. He may or may not have actually distilled water. However, distilling alcohol isn’t mentioned or even implied.
The fifteenth-century German physician, Hieronymus Brunschwig identified many benefits he believed liquor provides. He wrote that liquor:
Comforts the heart.
Heals all old and new sores on the head.
Gives a person good color.
Cures baldness by causing the hair to grow.
Kills body lice and fleas.
Cures all deafness.
Cures bad breath.
Heals mouth, tongue and lip cankers.
‘It causes the heavy tongue to become light and well-speaking.’
Cures short breath.
Causes good digestion.
Draws the wind out of the body.
Eases yellow jaundice, dropsy (edema), and gout.
Relieves breast pain from swelling.
Cures all bladder heals all diseases in the bladder.
Dissolves bladder stones.
Prevents food poisoning.
Cures malarial fevers.
Heals all shrunken sinews.
Cures the bites of a rabid dog.
Heals all stinking wounds.
Causes good memory.
Eases the diseases caused by cold.
Purifies ‘the five wits of melancholy and of all uncleanness.
WOW. If only.
Did you know Aristotle coined the term “spirits”?
In the “BarSmarts Advanced” handbook by David Wondrich, Dale DeGroff, and Paul Pacult, the term “spirits” for alcohol is attributed to Aristotle. “Aristotle wrote about this process in 327 B.C., but we have no proof that his fellow Greeks distilled spirits on any significant volume level,” the handbook reads. “Nonetheless, he was the one who gave the name of ‘spirit’ to the product of distillation. He thought drinking a distilled beer or wine put ‘spirits’ into the body of the drinker.”
The Oldest Liquor Brands In The World
- Year- 1608, Old Bushmills Distillery, Ireland One of the oldest licensed distillery is located at Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Manufacturing began with the grant from King James 1, back in 1608.
- Year- 1757, Kilbeggan Distillery, Ireland There is always a fight here with regards to which is the oldest distillery.
- Year- 1691, Nolet Distillery, Schiedam, Holland This family run business would definitely go on top of the list of oldest distilleries in the world if the dating of Bushmills is proved to be 1784 against 1608 that they claim. This Dutch distillery is known for its brand Ketel One Vodka and Jenever.
- Year- 1575, Lucas Bols Distillery, Holland Oh! Well.. Wait before you decide which is the oldest. Here is a clear winner. The distillery had been producing spirits since 1575 and is one of the global leaders in liqueur manufacturing. They manufacture 38 different varieties of liqueurs apart from spirits.
- Year- 1779, Distilleria Nardini, Veneto Region, Italy The first Grappa’s were distilled here and yes, they still manufacture the finest of the Grappa’s in the world. The ingredients for the Pomace Brandies are transported from Piedmont region, in Italy.
Info taken from Liquor.com. Read more at http://drinkwire.liquor.com/post/oldest-distilleries-in-the-world