The History of Liquor

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 5.23.30 PMEver wish you could thank the distillers of old who invented the liquors you enjoy so well, or wonder how someone could have come up with the idea of distilling in the first place? Distilling has a captivating history, tracing back to the alchemists of the old Middle East.

Alchemists are best known for attempting to turn lead into gold, an endeavor they (unfortunately) were never successful in. However, they were more interested in creating elixirs for medical use than creating gold. These ancient Arabs viewed the vapors given off and collected during their alchemy processes as the “spirits” of the objects they were working with. Of course, the most prominently isolated element in distillation is alcohol.

Gin was originally distilled by Middle Age Europeans to cure the plague. Though unsuccessful in achieving it’s original goal, it was later repurposed in the Netherlands for dialysis, and later still, was found to be useful in fighting malaria. The side effect it’s most famous for (and all it remains to be used for today) however, is getting people inebriated.

Tequila has been distilled in Mexico since the 1600’s, and was originally used for religious purposes. Funny how what was once called a religious ceremony is now simply called a party. Though less reserved in our regard for drinking today, tequila is still enjoyed in Mexico, and the now, the world over. Cenobio Sauza brought the liquor to the U.S. in the late 1800s.

Rum is sweet by taste, but has a bitter history. Inspired by the need to find a use for sugar’s byproducts during the Caribbean slave trade, rum was not only wrought through slavery, but also played a hand in perpetuating it, as the liquor was traded back to Africa in exchange for more slaves. Despite it’s dark genesis, rum has become an important to Caribbean culture, and a valuable export for the people today.

Evidence suggests that the Russians have been distilling and drinking vodka since the 9th century. Famous for their love of the vodka, Russians enjoyed it openly at religious ceremonies and social events.