Historians generally accept that alcohol was probably discovered in the Far East by Arab alchemists when developing new cosmetics and perfume. However as most of us know the Arab world had no real need for alcohol however the technique soon spread to Spain and then throughout the rest of Europe. The question from then on is how it developed and was it the Irish or the Scottish who developed whisky or whiskey. Although the first written record of whisky being sold comes from Scotland in 1494 it is more likely Irish monks developed the technique in Ireland before it spread to Scotland from there. There is no historical record of this however it is believed to have been around the 11th century. One hundred years later most farmers were producing whisky in Scotland. In these days there was no ageing process and the spirit was drunk soon after production (it must have been pretty rough). It wasn’t until the mid-17th century when a barrel that had been lost was discovered that whisky as we would know it was discovered. We are eternally grateful for this great whisky discovery.
Whisky remained a local product produced by local farmers and sold to the local community until the Act of Union with England in 1707 and whisky started to be taxed. Very quickly a black market developed and smuggling was the employment of choice for many Scots. However the government of the day realised its mistake and by relaxing the amount of tax to be paid resulted in more whisky distilleries going legal. A lesson perhaps that could be heeded today?