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Monday, August 6, 2018

The first written of whiskey

The history of Scottish whisky can be traced back over almost 700 years, and is thought to have started with monks trying to distil beer in a search for the secret of eternal youth.

Along with Christianity, Christian monks exported the system of distillation from Ireland to Scotland by the 14th century, possibly earlier. The first Scottish reference to proper whisky is normally considered to be an entry in the Exchequer Rolls (tax records) for 1494.

The entry describes how the monk John Cor, from Lindores Abbey just north of the then Scottish capital Dunfermline, had bought in a considerable amount of malt, on the orders more-over of the whisky-loving King James IV of Scotland. John Cor was the distiller at Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife.

In the Exchequer Rolls it is apparent that John Cor’s purchase consisted of “eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor, by order of the King, wherewith to make acqua vitae”. That volume is the equivalent of about 2,600 pounds (1,200 kg) in weight. This amount of malt would result in roughly 1,500 bottles, suggesting that distillation was well established in the late 15th century.

Aqua vitae means ‘water of life’ in Latin as does the Gaelic ‘uisge-beatha’, which was subsequently anglicised as ‘whisky’. Thus, goes the argument, this mention in 1494 marks the first record of whisky – or at the very least distilling – in Scotland.

By the mid-1970s, Scotch had become Scotland’s leading export and Great Britain’s No. 3 export.
The first written of whiskey

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