“…the first taste affects all the members of the body: two spoonfuls of this last liquor is a sufficient dose; and if any man should exceed this, it would presently stop his breath, and endanger his life.”
Its fearsome reputation came from a unique quadruple distillation – the extra two distillations increasing the purity of the spirit while raising the strength to 90% ABV.
Aquavit, vodka, eau-de-vie, usquebaugh all mean ‘water of life’ for in mediaeval times of disease and plague alchemists believed, with good reason, that high strength alcohol was a life preserver.
The new spirit X4 was recreated in 2008 by distilling director Jim McEwan at Islay’s Bruichladdich distillery, before being reduced to a less perilous 50% ABV at bottling. “X4 has loads of flavour, it’s no mere vodka substitute. It’s the original usquebaugh, the spirit of the Vikings that our forefathers knew. They didn’t wait to mature it, nor did we. It’s a little bit of history – so savour the flavour.”