A question often asked by people who are starting to gain an interest in Scottish Whisky is when did people start drinking whisky? A long time ago is the answer but we cannot exactly be sure of when whisky was first produced. The earliest written record of whisky comes from the British ‘Rolls of the Exchequer’ in 1494 where by order of the King James IV, a Friar (priest) named John Cor was asked to make eight containers of malt whisky for the King. At this time it was called Aquavitae (the water of life) which was translated into the Scots Gaelic ‘uisge beatha’ this was later anglicised to whisky.
The process of distillation is 1st recorded in Asia, learned by the Arabs and travelled to Scotland via Christian missionaries who it seemed spent a great deal of their time making alcoholic beverages, mostly beer in early times. The Kings command came when he was visiting his hunting lodge and he discovered the spirit was being made at the nearby Lindores Abbey where production had been on -going for some time. The location gave them plentiful supply of Barley and peat to smoke it. The abbey was unfortunately destroyed by the protestant John Knox.
During this time whisky was drunk more or less as soon as it was made and it is rumoured that it was an accident that someone found out it tasted much better when left in a cask for a period of time. Of course now scotch whisky can only be called such if it has spent at least 3 years maturing.