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Rhythm A Day Blog for March 27, 2020: International Whisk(e)y Day

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

International Whisk(e)y Day

International Whisk(e)y Day was first announced on March 27 in 2008 and officially launched in 2009. This happened at the Whisky Festival in the Netherlands, at a gathering of writers whose passion was whisk(e)y; it was created to honour the legendary whisky writer, the late Michael Jackson. (The (e) in the name is to show support for Scottish, Canadian, and Japanese whiskies as well as Irish and American whiskeys.)

It is a day for enjoying, sharing and celebrating whisk(e)y but also for accomplishing charity, as each year whisk(e)y fans donate to charities of their choice, with Parkinson's Disease charities the most common, as Michael suffered with this for many years.

Glencairn Whisky Glass

Glencairn Whisky Glass
(Photo: Culligan1984 at English Wikipedia/CC BY)

A wee dram of etymology: Whisk(e)y derives from the Old Irish uisce "water" + bethu "life" and so literally means "Water of Life."

However, despite such auspicious origins, all too often this fine medicinal beverage has been referred to as the Devil's Drink, so we will have to play the Devil's Music for this celebration. No, I'm not talking about Norwegian Satanic Death Metal, I'm referring to a style that has a much longer infernal history.

I'm talking, of course, about the Reel.

The Reel is a folk dance of Scottish origin and important in the fiddle repertoires of the British Isles and North America. The earliest historical reference to the Reel was in a witchcraft trial of 1590, where the accused's crimes includedhaving "daunced this reill or short dance"!

The name is probably from the Old Norse rulla, meaning "to whirl," which became the Anglo-Saxon hreol and Gaelic ruidhle. Following are some of the drum patterns used on the Bodhran to support Irish Reel dancing.

Today's Vlesson


Landing page photo: Mogens Engelund

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