Sunday, October 11, 2015

Arabs and distillation: Liquor “as hot between the ribs as a firebrand.”

This one's an ancient link, but it's a story worth repeating, with a fair warning: Reading the essay will make you thirsty AND hungry.

My first trip to Ireland was in 1985, and I distinctly recall the man in the pub in Sligo telling me "the Arabs invented distillation, but the Irish perfected it!"

As the following shows, the Arabs invented alcohol and knew good and well how to use it. The complicating factors are more recent themes in the interpretation of Islam, which The Economist explains in this piece: Tipsy taboo -- Alcohol is a reality in Muslim lands, but discussing it remains off limits.

Liquid fire: The Arabs discovered how to distil alcohol. They still do it best, say some (The Economist)

WHAT is Islam's greatest gift to the world? The faith of the Koran, Muslims will promptly say—along, some would add, with the Arabic language. Yet it may be that the single most pervasive legacy of Islamic civilisation is not holy scripture, but the rather unholy art of distilling alcohol. Not only were Arabs the first to make spirits. The great trading civilisation of Islam spread the skill across the globe, and in its lands some of the world's finest alcoholic concoctions are still made to this day.

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