Whisky has been distilled in Scotland for well over 500 years, so you’d expect some tall stories to have developed along with it. You’ll certainly hear plenty at the end of a good evening in a Scottish pub. We’ve chosen a few that sound pretty unlikely, but which are actually true, or at least based on fact. Try them on your friends – over a dram of good Scotch, of course!


Angels “steal” 4% of the whisky in a barrel every year. They want to make sure it’s okay before we drink it. The “Angel’s share” or “Angel’s tax” refers to the 4% of whisky that evaporates every year as it matures in the cask. Once you bottle whisky, the Angel can’t touch it. It no longer evaporates.

The oldest whisky in the world is almost automatically the most rare whisky because of the annual 4% “Angel’s tax”. Here’s how to calculate how much whisky is left over from each year. (It works like interest rates, but backwards.)

100 x (0.96) ^ years old = % of whisky left on earth from that year.

The Scots used to pour some Scotch on the fire to determine how much alcohol was in it. The colour of the flame shows whether or not the alcohol content is right. If it burns too hot, there is too much alcohol. This was sold cheaply to the distillery workers.

Before Clark’s Hydrometer was introduced to measure the amount of alcohol present in a spirit, the original method of “proof” was to mix a measure of the whisky with gunpowder and ignite it; if it flashed, the spirit content passed muster!