Earliest Written Record of ‘Aqua Vite’ Discovered in Aberdeen.

Courtesy of University of Aberdeen

Dr Claire Hawes from the University of Aberdeen has located a written mention of a whisky still. The discovery came during her interrogation and in decoding of the Aberdeen municipal registers burgh records which comprises of over 1.5 million words in Latin. But the book itself was from the inquest into the death of Sir Andrew Gray, a chaplain in Aberdeen’s parish church.

The record states that this still in particular was used for the production of ‘Aqua Vite’ (Water of Life) or as we know it, whisky. The first mention of whisky itself was found in documents from 1494, only 11 years prior, but until now there was no mention of how it was produced.

“All references to aqua vite or whisky from this period are significant because its early development is largely unrecorded.” States Dr Hawes.

“What is really exciting here is that it is part of our extensive burgh records.

“That means we can trace those involved in the distillation of aqua vite throughout the records, looking at their connections, where they lived, their professions and how all of this might be intertwined with the early development of Scotch whisky.”

“This could significantly change our understanding of the origins of our national drink.”

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “This is an exciting discovery which adds to our understanding of the history of Scotch whisky distillation.

“The work that the University of Aberdeen has done to uncover new information about the origins of the industry is particularly timely given the surge in Scotch whisky distilling in recent years.

“All new distillers learn their craft from the past, and so ensure that the heritage and traditions of the industry are taken forward into the future.”

  • Comment Source: Scotch Whisky Association


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