A Timeless Secret
It is said that the art of distilling was discovered somewhere in Asia in approximately 800 B.C. The
assumption was that this technique was merely used to make perfumes, however this has been refuted.
The method by which the processes found its way to the British Isles is uncertain; however we do know that
the Moors brought the art of distilling to Europe. It is believed that the art was then refined in monasteries
throughout central Europe. Apparently the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, carried this trade into the
monasteries in 432 AD on a Christian mission. Regardless, the Celts did attain the secret eventually and
made their water of life that in Gaelic is pronounced “Uisge Beatha”.
This simple yet not well-known name is how the scotch whiskey came to be, as Uisge means whiskey. The
millstone year for whiskey in history would have to be 1494 as a Sir Friar John Cor of Scotland ordered
eight bolls of malt. It was reportedly to be used for aqua vitae which is the first accountable proof of
production of whiskey in Scotland.
The skill of distilling soon left the monasteries for the farms where just about everyone was making whiskey
up until about 1820 this is when the government decided they were going to shut down personal and private
distilleries making them illegal. The rough and sometimes brutal taste differs greatly from today. It was not
until the eighteenth century that it was discovered that with aging came a mellower brew. The findings of
the aging process was practically tripped upon when an old cask long forgotten was found full of the good
The uniting of the two parliaments one from England and one from Scotland in the year 1707 is what drew
into effect the Union Act. Realizing that it would pay off for both sides, they came up with an unheard of
plan for making the malt.
By the year 1725 the English malt tax was forged however not without bloodshed. At this time every
second bottle of malt distilled in Scotland was of the illegal kind due to roving excise men, illicit distilleries,
and the fashion of smuggling.
In 1820’s much trouble arose in the form of crime and tough taxing policies which eventually became
completely unmanageable. To solve the problem, the government ordered the Excise Act which allowed the
government to track which distilleries were legal and those which were not by using labels.
Whisky started out as a product for the British market in the 1820s, but today it has become a drink that is
appreciated and loved around the world. Much of this incredible development is the result of the
introduction of blended whisky. Even today approximately 90 percent of all whisky that is produced in
Scotland is used in blended whisky. However the interest of single malt whisky has increased in recent years
and this development is likely to continue.
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