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There is currently little or no evidence of worldwide demand for Scotch whisky slowing down or reversing. The standard history of distilling in Scotland begins with Friar John Cor of Lindores Abbey in Fife and the reference to him in the Exchequer Rolls of 1494. The significance of whisky as a source of revenue has not escaped the attention of subsequent governments and has attracted much debate over the years. It is entirely fitting then that the first recorded mention of whisky in Scotland can be found in a record of taxes. There were earlier mentions of alcoholic spirits and there is general agreement that the art of distilling came to Scotland with Irish monks. In 1505, the Guild of Surgeon Barbers in Edinburgh was granted a monopoly over the manufacture of aqua vitae but by the 1550s infringements of the monopoly were occurring with some regularity not least in domestic settings. Indeed, distilling seems to have been so commonplace a part of everyday life that few commentators consider it worth remarking upon. It is not until 1689 that larger-scale commercial operations can be identified in the Ferintosh distillery. This chapter details further the story of the whisky industry in Scotland up to the present day.

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