Whiskey is made from various grains that have been fermented, distilled, and aged in wooden barrels. There are some problems with this, but there are also some benefits.
Fermentation v. Distillation
Fermentation is a natural process that can be encountered in the wild. Animals have been known to seek out fermenting fruit on the forest floor, and it’s safe to assume that our paleolithic ancestors did the same thing. However, the amount of alcohol consumed this way is minimal compared to the vast amounts of alcohol we currently have at our disposal, especially when you get into the hard liquors.
Distillation is an industrial process that we only invented a few millennia ago. The process removes any carbohydrates from an alcoholic beverage, but it also removes any of the antioxidants that can be used as an excuse to drink alcohol.
The Benefits of Wood Aging
There’s another “but” when it comes to the potential health effects of whiskey. After it has been distilled, whiskey is then aged in wood barrels to give it flavor, but experts think that the wood imparts more than just flavor. Whiskey contains an impressive amount of antioxidants and it contains more ellagic acid (a free radical fighter) than red wine. Researchers speculate that it is the wood aging that provides the high phenol and furan concentration found in whiskey.
Scotch is whiskey that has been distilled multiple times, so at first glance, it might look like a lesser choice than whiskey, but in order to be labeled “Scotch”, whiskey has to be aged in wood barrels for at least three years. Since it is thought that the wood aging process conveys health benefits, there is no reason for you not to indulge in the occasional Scotch neat or on the rocks, if that’s your thing.
If you’re looking for more excuses to consume alcohol, Mark Sisson has a whole post on which alcoholic beverages are the most and least friendly to a low-carb, Paleo/Primal way of living.