Oldest Known Record of Scotch: 1494

I stumbled upon this little nugget of trivia the other day:

What is the earliest historic record of the distillation of Scotch whisky?

The earliest historical reference to distilling in Scotland appears in the Scottish Exchequer Rolls for 1494, where there is an entry of “eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make acquavitae’”. A boll was an old Scottish measure of not more than six bushels (six bushels is equivalent to 152.4kg, enough barley to make 1,500 bottles). The earliest reference to a distillery in the Acts of the Scottish Parliament appears to be in 1690, when mention is made of the famous Ferintosh owned by Duncan Forbes of Culloden.


And if you’re curious, acquavitae is an archaic name for a concentrated alcohol (technically an “aqueous solution of ethanol”). I think scotch whisky would fall into that category!

The article also has some other whisky related historic notes like distillation practices, the role of the Scotch Whisky Association, etc. I was surprised to learn that the oldest record was 1494, though I suspect it’s been enjoyed for long before then.

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