IN 1695, a Hebridean traveller wrote of an ancient, powerful spirit known as ‘usquebaugh-baul’ (oosh-ker-vah-voll), the Gaelic for ‘perilous whisky’.
He was told: “…the first taste affects all the members of the body: two spoonfuls of this last liquor is a sufficient dose; and if any man should exceed this, it would presently stop his breath, and endanger his life.”
Its fearsome reputation came from a unique quadruple distillation – the extra two distillations increasing the purity of the spirit while raising the strength to 90 per cent ABV.
Says a spokesperson: “Aquavit, vodka, eau-de-vie, usquebaugh, all mean ‘water of life’ for, in mediaeval times of disease and plague, alchemists believed, with good reason, that high-strength alcohol was a life preserver.
“The new spirit X4 was recreated in 2008 by distilling director, Jim McEwan, at Islay’s Bruichladdich distillery, before being reduced to a less perilous 50 per cent ABV at bottling.
“X4 has loads of flavour, it’s no mere vodka substitute. It’s the original usquebaugh, the spirit of the Vikings that our forefathers knew. They didn’t wait to mature it, nor did we. It’s a little bit of history – so savour the flavour.”
Notes for editors:
UK distribution Malcolm Cowen: 0208 965 1937
More info and images: http://www.bruichladdich.com/trade/products.htm
‘A Description of The Western Islands of Scotland in 1695′, was written by Martin Martin.
The first bottling of 6,000 bottles (RSP £39) released today has sold out.
PRESS RELEASE issued by Mark Reynier at Bruichladdich. You too can post media releases (aka story ideas for journalists) on allmediascotland.com. For more information, email here.