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With a license to distill Irish whiskey from 1608, the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world.After the English Malt Tax of 1725, most of Scotland's distillation was either shut down or forced underground.In the US, the usage has not always been consistent.From the late eighteenth century to the mid twentieth century, American writers used both spellings interchangeably until the introduction of newspaper style guides.Distilled alcohol was known in Latin as aqua vitae ("water of life").
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Scotch whisky was hidden under altars, in coffins, and in any available space to avoid the governmental excisemen or revenuers.
In America, whisky was used as currency during the American Revolution; George Washington operated a large distillery at Mount Vernon.
The typical unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation, and aging in wooden barrels.
The word whiskey (or whisky) is an anglicisation of the Classical Gaelic word uisce (or uisge) meaning "water" (now written as uisce in Irish Gaelic, and uisge in Scottish Gaelic).