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The word "whiskey" is believed to have come originally from the Irish Gaelic. Soldiers of King Henry II who having invaded Ireland in the 12th century struggled to pronounce the native Irish Gaelic ‘uisce beatha’ meaning "water of life" eventually the pronunciation changed from "Whishkeyba" to "Whisky".  Presumably Henry’s soldiers didn’t have any problems when sampling ‘uisge beatha’ (Scots Gaelic), the name itself is a Gaelic translation of the Latin phrase aqua vitae, meaning "Water of Life".

Historical references, to what is believed to be whisky, date back as far as the fifteenth century, although it can’t be proved whisky was around long before that.  

Scotland’s history is steeped in conflict, battles and bloodshed and the same could be said for its whisky.  The taxation placed on the production of whisky after the 1702 Act of Union between England and Scotland saw the decline of commercial distilleries.  High taxes (some things never change) created many illicit stills which flourished while their legal counterparts dropped quality and standards to keep going. At one time it is believed 40,000 still were in operation in Scotland, this combined with confusion in the Law eventually led to a more reasonable tax and over time most stills became ‘official’.

The original whisky, uisge beatha or aqua vitae, was nothing like today’s carefully crafted dram.  Whisky of old was drunk soon after production and like Scotland’s climate, it was harsh. Like a lot of good inventions, Penicillin and Champagne amongst them, an accident led to the maturing of whisky. Apparently a barrel had escaped notice and when it was found after a prolonged period and consumed, the flavour and colouring had much improved it hence today’s careful maturing to create the Uisce Beatha.

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Abhainn Dearg Distillery
Isle of Lewis
Outer Hebrides

V.A.T Reg: 658380016

Telephone: 01851 672429


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