The first confirmed written record of distilled whiskey comes from 1405 Ireland and is attributed to the demise of a chieftan who drank himself to death at a Christmas party.
Whiskey in its infancy was an extremely harsh drink due to the fact that it was not allowed to age. However, as distillation techniques were refined the drink became increasingly popular in Europe.
Whiskey is now housed in metal stills lined with copper which removes the sulfur-based compounds and makes the drink much smoother than it used to be
The drink was so popular in the West during the 18th century that whiskey was used as currency during the Revolutionary War.
Whiskey's popularity in the U.S. is growing exponentially with annual sales of Tennessee whiskey increasing 10.2% and surpassing $1 billion last year.
With that in mind here are the 10 best whiskies in the world as judged by 2013 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC)...
The Ships 5 Year Old Premium Select Whiskey
This South African whiskey was launched in 1991 and has won multiple awards including Best Whiskey Outside of Scotland Aged 12 years and Younger at the 2009 Whiskey Magazine's Worldwide Whiskey Awards, and a gold medal at the 2013 IWSC. Each bottle contains 43% ABV and costs $35. Here's what the IWSC had to say about it:
"Beautifully peaty nose with gentle smoky twist. Fairly robust in the mouth with slight sweet note and lots of ripe fruit. Peat really takes hold in the mouth and adds a great deal of character. Long, full, warming and satisfying finish."
Kavalan Vinho Barrique Cask Strength Single Malt Whiskey
This $160 bottle of Taiwanese whiskey uses American oak casks that held either white or red wine before being re-toasted for use in distilling this award winning whiskey. Here's what the IWSC had to say about it:
"Sweet, ripe fruit with bananas, peach and pear. Some dried apricot and raisin. Lively entry into the mouth with all the ripe fruit showing well with good oak backing. The high strength gives all the characters a lift but dilution makes them all the more accessible. Well fruited finish"