Despite 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 not. Even 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 Britai


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