the growing popularity of single malt scotch as a high-end luxury, its
origins and history are very humble; indeed, until the late sixties,
single malt scotch was generally considered a rustic, less sophisticated
cousin of blended whiskies.
The first whiskies were distilled by missionary
friars in the wilds of Scotland as early as the 1400s. The saintly brothers
employed this concoction as a medicinal agent, calling it "the
water of life," or in the Gaelic tongue, "uisge beatha."
The English, of course, mangled the pronunciation, eventually so corrupting
the original name that "uisge" became "whisky."
Scottish farmers initially took up distilling the
potent elixir for private consumption illegally, more often than
when the Scots began to export their unique spirits in the 17th century,
the outside world regarded it as inferior to brandy and other wines.
But in the late 19th century, a blight of root lice decimated
the French grapes, and blended whiskies began to fill the void in drawing
rooms and gentlemen's clubs across Britain.
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