FYI June 01, 2017




On this day:

1495 – A monk, John Cor, records the first known batch of Scotch whisky.
John Cor is the name of the monk referred to in the first known written reference to a batch of Scotch Whisky on June 1, 1495.

“To Brother John Cor, by order of the King, to make aqua vitae VIII bolls of malt.” — Exchequer Rolls 1494–95, Vol x, p. 487.[1]

Brother John Cor (Johanni Cor/John Kawe) was a Tironensian monk based at Lindores Abbey in Fife. He was a servant at the court of James IV. The King gave him a gift of 14 shillings on Christmas Day in 1488, and at Christmas time in 1494 Cor was given black cloth from Lille in Flanders for his livery clothes as a clerk in royal service. He was probably an apothecary.[2]

The Tironensians were well regarded for their skills as alchemists and indeed Lindores Abbey is known as the ‘Birthplace of Scotch Whisky’. Leading whisky writer Michael Jackson refers to Lindores in his book Scotland and Its Whiskies saying “For the whisky-lover, it is a pilgrimage”. The monks were also well respected for their horticultural skills and it is in no small part, thanks to those skills, that Newburgh is famous to this day for its abundant and delicious orchard fruits.


Scotch whisky
Scotch whisky, often simply called Scotch, is malt whisky or grain whisky made in Scotland. Scotch whisky must be made in a manner specified by law.[1]

All Scotch whisky was originally made from malted barley. Commercial distilleries began introducing whisky made from wheat and rye in the late 18th century.[2] Scotch whisky is divided into five distinct categories: single malt Scotch whisky, single grain Scotch whisky, blended malt Scotch whisky (formerly called “vatted malt” or “pure malt”), blended grain Scotch whisky, and blended Scotch whisky.[1][3]

All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years.[1][3] Any age statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky, expressed in numerical form, must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product. A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed-age whisky.

The first written mention of Scotch whisky is in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1495. A friar named John Cor was the distiller at Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife.[4][5]

Many Scotch whisky drinkers will refer to a unit for drinking as a dram.[6]

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Born on this day:

1907 – Frank Whittle, English soldier and engineer, developed the jet engine (d. 1996)
Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle OM KBE CB FRS FRAeS[1] (1 June 1907 – 9 August 1996) was an English Royal Air Force (RAF) engineer air officer. He is credited with single-handedly inventing the turbojet engine. A patent was submitted by Maxime Guillaume in 1921 for a similar invention; however, this was technically unfeasible at the time. Whittle’s jet engines were developed some years earlier than those of Germany’s Hans von Ohain who was the designer of the first operational turbojet engine.[2]

From an early age, Whittle demonstrated an aptitude for engineering and an interest in flying. At first he was turned down by the RAF but, determined to join the Royal Air Force, he overcame his physical limitations and was accepted and sent to No. 2 School of Technical Training to join No 1 Squadron of Cranwell Aircraft Apprentices. He was taught the theory of aircraft engines and gained practical experience in the engineering workshops. His academic and practical abilities as an Aircraft Apprentice earned him a place on the officer training course at Cranwell. He excelled in his studies and became an accomplished pilot. While writing his thesis there he formulated the fundamental concepts that led to the creation of the turbojet engine, taking out a patent on his design in 1930. His performance on an officers’ engineering course earned him a place on a further course at Peterhouse, Cambridge where he graduated with a First.[3][4]

Without Air Ministry support, he and two retired RAF servicemen formed Power Jets Ltd to build his engine with assistance from the firm of British Thomson-Houston.[5] Despite limited funding, a prototype was created, which first ran in 1937. Official interest was forthcoming following this success, with contracts being placed to develop further engines, but the continuing stress seriously affected Whittle’s health, eventually resulting in a nervous breakdown in 1940. In 1944 when Power Jets was nationalised he again suffered a nervous breakdown, and resigned from the board in 1946.[6]

In 1948, Whittle retired from the RAF and received a knighthood. He joined BOAC as a technical advisor before working as an engineering specialist with Shell, followed by a position with Bristol Aero Engines. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1976 he accepted the position of NAVAIR Research Professor at the United States Naval Academy from 1977–1979. In August 1996, Whittle died of lung cancer at his home in Columbia, Maryland.[7] In 2002, Whittle was ranked number 42 in the BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.[8]

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