There’s a reason old western movies show cowboys pouring whiskey into an old wound. Whiskey was often used on bloody battlefields as a natural antiseptic. And although wine gets a lot of credit for being a healthy alcohol to drink, whiskey tops all of them. Good tasting and good for your waistline? Here are the real reasons why whiskey is healthier than any other drink.
Whiskey kills bacteria and helps ward off infection
It turns out the olden days’ practice of using whiskey as an antiseptic was not just for (cinematic) show. A study published in the Annals of Microbiology shows that whiskey kills bacteria and can help keep infection at bay. The study examined how many types of bacteria could survive in the ice found at a bar or restaurant. The results were shocking although not entirely surprising. They found 31 different species of bacteria present, including the kind that can cause staph infections.
The next step was to measure the bacteria’s resistance to different types of alcohol. They tested the bacteria against whiskey, vodka, different types of mixers and various environmental conditions. Bacteria continued to thrive in all of the samples except one: you guessed it, the whiskey. Whiskey was the only drink that completely eliminated all traces of the bacteria. What’s even more incredible is the ice was no ordinary ice. The study used “food grade ice” which is what bars and restaurants across the country serve.
Whiskey is loaded with antioxidants
In addition to fighting off bacteria and infection, whiskey is loaded with antioxidants. For starters, it has a high concentration of ellagic acid, which helps your body destroy rogue cells and fight off different diseases. You’ll find the same thing in wine but whiskey has much more of these disease-fighting allies. Single malt whiskey has been found to have the highest amount of antioxidants.
Speaking of antioxidants, hot toddies have been touted as the common cold cure-all for quite some time. Is the whiskey acting as medicine? Dr. William Shaffner, a scientist from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center says “yes, sort of.” He says whiskey affects immunity by expanding blood vessels, which is helpful for increased motion within mucous membranes. The expansion and motion can serve to reduce congestion and rid the body of infection, as well as support the healing process with antioxidants. “It would not have an effect on the virus itself, but its effect on the body can possibly give you some modest symptom relief. The alcohol dilates blood vessels a little bit, and that makes it harder for your mucous membranes to deal with the infection,” he added.
Whiskey can increase life longevity
In June 2019, Grace Jones, Great Britain's oldest living person died at 112. The year prior she told Gloucestershire Live that she could attribute her long life to a glass of whiskey every night. “I started having a nightly tot of it when I turned 50 so I’ve been having it every night for the last 60 years, and I certainly have no intention of stopping now,” she said at the time.
It seems our ancestors have been right about whiskey all along. A 16th century historian named Raphael Holinshed put it best when he said, “Being moderately taken, it slows the age, cuts phlegm, helps digestion, cures the dropsy, it heals the strangulation, keeps and preserves the head form whirling, the tongue from lisping, the stomach from womblying, the guts from rumbling, the hands from shivering, the bones from aching... and it truly is a sovereign liquor if it be orderly taken."
If you are a whiskey lover who enjoys the spirit for the flavor or a taste of tranquility at the end of a busy day, you can now add health benefits to your list of reasons to imbibe. Want an easy way to experiment with unique types of craft whiskey? Look no further than RackHouse Whiskey Club. RackHouse scours the U.S. looking for the best distilleries with the most interesting stories to curate a unique subscription box filled with full-sized bottles of hard-to-find small batch whiskey. We’re building a community of premium craft whiskey drinkers, and you’re invited. Join us!