Fine Scotch whiskey is often the first choice of the discriminating drinker. Despite this, it carries with it the same dangers inherent to any alcoholic beverage. Being such a prized spirit, however, Scotch has its own specific risks. Unscrupulous distillers, subpar ingredients, and improper handling can all lead to possible deadly effects.
In the U.K. and elsewhere, the production of counterfeit Scotch whiskey is a serious crime. Whiskey distilled improperly or derived from alternative ingredients can be fatal if ingested. In certain cases, animal feed is substituted for barley mash. In others, dangerous levels of poisonous methanol have been found. Imbibing dangerous amounts of this substance can cause abdominal pain, blurred vision and vomiting.
Constant abuse of spirits such as Scotch whiskey over long periods of time can lead to many fatal effects. Perhaps the most commonly known is cirrhosis of the liver. Prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to a hardening of the liver, caused by a buildup of scar tissue. This scarring can restrict blood flow through the liver, which in turn, leads to a host of potentially deadly conditions. The liver is severely diminished in its ability to filter toxins from the body, fight infection and regulate blood clotting.
Scotch whiskey has a far higher alcohol content than other intoxicating beverages, such as beer or wine. The minimum proof, or alcohol content, of most scotches is around 40 percent. Compare that to wine, which typically hovers around 12 to 13 percent. As such, it is easier to lose track of intake when imbibing Scotch, leading to possible alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning occurs when the level of alcohol in one's blood reaches dangerous levels, leading to difficulties in breathing, heart rate and gag reflex.
The overuse of Scotch whiskey and similar liquors can also greatly affect your judgment. Often the first thing to go when you become intoxicated is your inhibitions. Risk-taking behavior, such as drunken driving, aggression and sexual irresponsibility, can result, given the situation. Many of these dangerous behaviors can result in deadly consequences. Drunken driving, in particular, not only endangers the life of the drunken driver, but also anyone who may happen to be in her path.
Neil Richter began his writing career in 2007. He has served as a writing tutor and published reviews in the local Illinois newspaper "The Zephyr." Richter holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English literature and film from Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.