10 Interesting and Unusual Whisky Facts

1 Whisky fumes turn trees black.

Have you ever noticed that the trees around any distillery are black? This is a disease caused by the spirit fumes from the nearby distillery. Luckily it has no negative effect on the tree itself, just the colour.

2 The shape of the still tells you about the flavour of the whisky.

Even if there are many factors that contribute to the flavour of whisky, you can tell something about the basic character by looking at the stills. Taller and slimmer pot stills produce smooth and mild whiskies and shorter pot stills make fuller and stronger whiskies.

This separation of heavier and lighter substances can also be achieved with a boil ball in the lower part of the still neck. The ball causes some of the spirit to be redirected into the pot before it gets to the neck, contributing to lighter more floral and fruity flavours.

whisky stills

3 Peatiness disappears over time.

No matter how peaty your whisky is, once you open the bottle it will start to lose its peatiness due to oxidation.

4 The first ever scotch whisky distillery by a woman was only in 2017!

There have been women running distilleries before (Bessie at Laphroaig, Helen Cumming at Cardhu…), but Heather Nelson was the first to take the lead alone. Her distillery Toulvaddie launched in 2017, but the first barrels won’t be ready for sale for a decade.

*Edit: Unfortunately, there has been some planning issues and the distillery is nowhere near being ready. I have tried to contact Heather for an update, but haven’t been able to get a response just yet.

5 Single malt whiskies may have been in several casks.

Single malt whisky is a product of a single distillery, but most single malts are a blend of several casks.


6 Whisky was prescribed by doctors during Prohibition.

Doctors could apply for a licence to write prescriptions for medicinal liquor, mainly whisky or brandy. Patients could then get their alcohol from chemists (similar to medical marijuana today). It is estimated that during the first year of Prohibition, doctors prescribed around 64 million pints of liquor. As chemists were working more and more like liquor stores, it allowed the companies to grow. The Walgreen pharmacy chain, for example, grew from 20 to nearly 400 shops between 1920 and 1933.

7 Whisky or whiskey – what’s the difference?

Whiskey is preferred by Irish and Americans, whisky is used in Scotland, Canada, Japan and the rest of the world. Scotch used to be very poor quality, and when the Irish were exporting their whisky to America they wanted to differentiate their product from the low-quality whisky by adding an extra ‘e’ in the name.

8 The Angel’s Share means wasted whisky.

Each year during maturation around 2% of the whisky is lost due to natural evaporation. This lost whisky is called the Angel’s Share.

9 Scotch is distilled twice, Irish three times.

There are some exceptions in both countries, but this is the general rule of thumb.

Arbikie distillery building

10 Over 22 million casks are maturing in warehouses in Scotland.

That’s a lot of whisky! But I guess that makes sense if you consider that around 42 bottles are shipped overseas each second!

Have I missed any other fun whisky facts? I’d love to hear your favourite whisky snippets. Please leave your comments below.

Nikka from the barrel

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