01.06.

1495: How was the First Scotch Whisky Made?

1495: How was the First Scotch Whisky Made?
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 01 June 1495
  • The word "whisky" comes from the Celtic term "uisge beatha", which means "water of life". Originally, Scotch whisky was produced exclusively from barley, and only in the 18th century did the introduction of wheat and rye begin.

On this day in 1495, the production of Scotch whisky was mentioned in written records for the first time in history.

According to that record, the first whisky was produced by the monk John Cor of Lindores Abbey.

At that time, Scotland was still a Catholic country and Lindores Abbey was a Benedictine Tironensian abbey along the eastern sea coast of Scotland. According to the record, the Scottish King James IV personally donated about 580 pounds of malt to the abbey, from which the monk John Cor distilled whisky.

The monastery had fresh water from a nearby spring. In the documents, whisky was called by the Latin name “Aqua Vita” (“water of life”). The word “whisky” comes from the Celtic term “uisge beatha”, which also means “water of life”.

Originally, Scotch whisky was produced exclusively from barley, and only in the 18th century did the introduction of wheat and rye begin.

Today, the original whisky made ​​from barley in Scotland is called “malt whisky”, and the most appreciated kind is the so-called “single malt whisky”. Only barley, water and yeast are required for producing such whisky.

First, the barley is soaked in water to germinate and release the so-called barley malt, that is maltose (a type of sugar). Maltose is then ground and dissolved in water, and the yeast is then added to it. Fermentation occurs, wherein the alcohol is released. This liquid is then distilled, and the product is then placed in oak barrels.

Each “single malt” whisky in Scotland must age for at least three years in oak barrels. Whisky is often held in the barrels much longer, which is then marked on the bottle (i.e. “aged 12 years”).

If the whisky is bottled from a single barrel, it is labeled “single cask” or “single barrel”. In addition to the aforementioned “single malt” whisky, which is the most appreciated, there is also “blended malt” (obtained by mixing various barley distillates), “single grain” (obtained from distilled wheat or ray), “blended grain” (a mixture of distilled wheat and rye), and ordinary “blended” (obtained by mixing all mentioned options).

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