Inverness is best known for its beautiful scenic walks, historic landscapes and notorious selection of local whisky. Whisky has no doubt taken the world by storm for centuries and is considered one of Scotland’s greatest exports – well according to us whisky lovers at Kingsmills! Yet, the ‘gin craze’ is continuing to grow worldwide with the expectation of it being served in fancy goblets, paired with the most suitable tonic and filled to the brim with an array of fruit most compatible with the gin’s botanical flavours. Whisky continues to dominate the Scottish Highlands; however, gin is not far behind with more and more companies producing the juniper spirit. But the real question is – which spirit is actually better? Does one reign triumphant?
ROUND ONE – HISTORY
According to sources it is rumoured that the distillation process has been practised as far back as 2000 BC and in Scotland and Ireland no later than the 15th Century – introducing the infamous Scotch. The trend soon spread to America where whisky was used as currency during the American Revolution until the Whisky Rebellion erupted in 1791.
During 17th Century gin was produced in England and The Netherlands; however it is still commonly considered the ‘English Spirit’. The spirit was developed on the liquor jenever and soon became one of England’s most popular drinks once infused with juniper berries. However, the juniper trend goes way back to the 11th Century when Italian monks were infusing the berry with spirits and even using the drink as a remedy during the Black Death!
Both spirits have a very interesting history, but Whisky wins this round for us!
ROUND TWO – FLAVOUR
Whisky is a bit like marmite – you either love it or hate it. The spirit is made of three key ingredients; water, yeast and barley (Scotch). However, the process in which it is made really determines the flavour. If a whisky is left to age for over a decade in a specific type of wooden barrel then this will alter the taste dramatically, as opposed to a whisky which has only aged a few years in another type of barrel.
Like whisky, gin is certainly not for everyone. However, the advantage of gin is that it is usually served with a mixer which can completely alter the taste. In addition to this, flavoured gin is becoming more and more popular with new exotic flavours being produced every month. The spirit is usually served with yummy fruit also meaning you are more likely to consume your 5-a-day by ordering a gin than a whisky.
Although both spirits held a strong argument this point has to go to gin!
ROUND THREE – COCKTAILS
One of our favourite facts about whisky* is it is actually the spirit used in the FIRST EVER cocktail! Let’s journey back to Louisville Kentucky 1881 in a small Gentleman’s club where bourbon was the go to drink. One gentleman however hated the taste (weird we know) but continued to drink it to live up to his masculinity. However, one fateful evening said gentleman couldn’t take the taste anymore and asked the kind bartender to make his drink a bit more bearable. The bartender poured the bourbon, added some brown sugar, a dash of bitters and a squeeze of orange and there you have it – the first ever Old Fashioned!
*We understand that whisky was not actually used in this story and it was bourbon, however without the origin of whisky there would have been no bourbon, so we are claiming this one to be a whisky fact.
We do certainly love a gin cocktail whether it is a Bramble, Tom Collins or Clover Club. However, we are going to take the time to appreciate the classic Martini in this round. Our favourite Martini story does come from the Scottish Bond Sir Sean Connery and is timeless line ‘shaken not stirred’. Always a classic comment to use when ordering a Martini at the bar.
Sorry but whisky takes this round by a mile considering that this round would potentially not even exist without the spirit!
Without further ado, the winner of ‘Battle of the Spirits 2019’ is no other than whisky! Although it was a close call and both sides presented fantastic arguments, we have to stay loyal to our local spirit. However, who are we to tell you which spirit is more superior? Why not stop by Kingsmills Hotel and Spa and visit our established Whisky and Gin bar and decide for yourself.