On this day in 1495 the first known batch of Scotch whisky was recorded. In an entry in the Exchequer Rolls for 1494/95 it is written that malt was sent "To Friar John Cor, by order of the king, to make aqua vitae VIII bolls of malt", enough to make about 500 bottles. It’s from the term “aqua vitae", Latin for” water of life”, that whiskey derives its name, coming from the Gaelic Uisge, a shortened version of uisge beatha meaning, you guessed it, "water of life.”
This is unlikely to the first time whisky was distilled in Scotland. In fact the earliest mention of whiskey comes from Ireland, with the seventeenth-century Annals of Clonmacnoise attributing the death of a chieftain in 1405 to "taking a surfeit of aqua vitae" at Christmas. So it’s likely that its distillation developed in Scotland at around the same time, or at least shortly after.
Scotland’s king at the time was James IV and he is reported to have been very fond of the drink. Brother John Cor was a Tironensian monk based at Lindores Abbey in Fife, where he probably acted as an apothecary. He was a servant at James’ court and would therefore probably have been an obvious choice of distiller for the king.
At this time the distillation process was still in its infancy; whisky itself was not allowed to age, and as a result tasted very raw and brutal compared to today's versions. Renaissance-era whisky was also very potent and not diluted. Over time whisky evolved into a much smoother drink we know today and I for one am very happy about that - Sláinte!
This scene was built by Dan Harris as part of a series of models on Scottish history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
BLOG TO THE PAST
On LEGO, History and other things by Brick to the Past