Timeline of Whisky

Whisky malt fascination
  • 2nd millennia BC - Art of distillation began in ancient civilizations of Babylon and Mesopotamia, mostly as a means to produce exotic variations of perfumes and aromatics.
  • 100 AD - First written mentioning of the distilling process came from Ancient Greece. Famous philosopher Alexander of Aphrodisias described this process of making sea water into pure drinking water.
  • Early 1st millennia BC - Knowledge of distillation reached the Europe by the traveling Moors. Distillation managed to infuse itself into Christian religion, becoming necessary in production ingredients for several religious ceremonies and medical purposes (it was commonly used as a treatment for colic, palsy and smallpox).
  • 1000-1200 - Distillation slowly spread from the continental Europe to the Irish and Scottish monasteries. Inability to access grapes for the manufacture of wine, local distilleries focused their efforts into fermenting of grain mash, creating first modern whisky.
  • 1494 - The first written recording of the whisky in Europe. In it Scotland's Exchequer granted malt to Friar John Cor in enough quantity to make over 1500 bottles of whisky. Apparently by that time, production of whisky in Scotland was greatly developed.
  • 1506 - King James IV of Scotland purchased large amounts of Scotchwhisky from the Guild of Surgeon Barbers in town of Dundee, one of the best known whisky producers of that time.
  • 1536-1541 - King Henry VIII of England dissolved the monasteries, transferring the production of whisky from the monks to the general population.
  • 1608 - Irish "Old Bushmills Distillery" is today regarded as the first licensed whisky distillery in the world.
  • 1707-1725 - Merger of England and Scotland under "Acts of Union" and dramatic rise of the taxes (especially after English Malt Tax of 1725) proved to be almost fatal to the whisky production in northern Europe. Vast majority of the Scottish distilleries started operating at night, bringing the birth of the whisky's nickname "moonshine".
  • 1775-1783 - During American Revolution, whisky was often used as a currency.
  • 1791 - Scarcity of whisky and great demand for its import and production brought the rise of the severe alcohol taxes in the newly formed government of the American president George Washington. Ensuing "Whisky Rebellion" brought great unrest between corn farmers and the US government.
  • 1820 - John Walker started production of his famous whisky. This brand of whisky today holds the record as the most popular and largest selling Scotchwhisky in the world.
  • 1823 - United Kingdom brought end to the organized illegal production of moonshine whisky in Scotland. Distilleries were given choice to legalize their manufacture by paying a fee.
  • 1823 - Although American distilleries made whisky for several decades before that, in 1823 producers from Old Bourbon County finally started calling their drink "bourbon".
  • 1826-1831 - Irish inventors Robert Stein and Aeneas Coffeyimproved the technology of distillation by inventing and refining the "continuous still" which greatly increased the quality and lowered price for whisky manufacture.
  • 1850 - Andrew Usher began a production of first blended whisky. He mixed traditional pot still whisky with the new one created in one of the Aeneas Coffey stills.
  • 1880s - After the worldwide production of wine became severely impacted by the spreading of the phylloxera, production and consumption of whisky greatly rose outside Northern Europe.
  • 1920-1933 - Even though during American Prohibition production and using of alcohol by general population was strictly forbidden, government approved the prescription of medicinal whisky. Pharmacy chain Walgreens used this new environment to increase their retail stores number from 20 to near 400. This enabled them to become the largest drugstore chain in modern USA.
  • 1964 - American Congress declared bourbon whisky as a country's official distilled spirit.
  • 1973 - For the first time in history, vodka outsold whisky in the US. Deciding factors for the rise of vodka were popularity of James Bond and the influx of young female drinkers.
  • 1994 - 500th anniversary of the whisky production in Scotland.