Why There Wouldn't Be Whisky Without Beer

Perhaps it should come as no surprise since more than 1 billion people are living there, but India is the top consuming country of whiskey in the world, drinking over 1.9 billion liters in a year. America loves its whiskey too, coming in at number two, quaffing 1.6 billion liters (via BlacktailNYC).

Whiskey has been experiencing a boom in popularity in the United States, as there are now more than 2,000 whiskey distilleries nationwide (per Esquire). And the American whiskey industry is big business, selling over 28 million 9-liter cases and generating a revenue of $4.3 billion for distillers in 2020, according to Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

We are a country that appreciates fine whiskey, whether mixed in a cocktail or served neat or on the rocks. Bourbon whiskey, in particular, has appealed to millennials as the cocktail spirit of choice for that generation (via CNBC). But there wouldn't be any whiskey to go around without beer.

Distiller's beer

All whiskey is crafted from something called distiller's beer, also referred to as wash. The distiller's beer consists of fermented wort, which is grain, water, and yeast. These fermenting grains help kickstart the process of whiskey turning into alcohol (per Distiller).

Technically, you can imbibe a distiller's beer, which typically ranges between 7 to 10% ABV, but it's not exactly renowned for its stellar taste. It's simply a means to an end, which is contributing to the process of whiskey distillation (via Whisky Advocate). If you were producing a beer meant to be consumed, you would add hops and possibly infuse it with fruits, spices, or other flavors to enhance it.

In recent years though, America has been seeing more breweries cross over into distilling, including Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Rogue Ales & Spirits, and Southern Tier (per The Manual). Some craft/distilling collaborations use pilsners, IPAs, ales, and stouts as the base for their whiskies (via Eater). The Crafty Cask even offers a tutorial (via YouTube) on how to convert craft beer into craft whiskey. So, let's all raise a glass and cheers to beer for its ever-expanding role in making our beloved whiskeys.