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June 12: Scotch Whisky Arrives

On this day in 1495, Friar John Cor, a Tironensian monk at the Lindores Abbey in Fife, Scotland began distilling the first documented batch of Scotch whisky. He’d received royal permission and a load of malt from King James the Fourth 11 days prior, and the good monk jumped right in. As Scotland lacked vineyards, they used grains, hence whisky instead of brandy. No one’s perfectly sure how distilling found its way to Scotland, but it should be noted the monks at the Lindores Abbey were known to practice alchemy. There’s also a strong argument that far-ranging Irish monks brought the practice home from the continent then, after developing their own version of whiskey, eventually passed it on to their Scottish kin. It was initially marketed in Scotland as a powerful medicine, providing relief from a wide variety of ailments, including being cold, sober, thirsty or under attack by the English.