On This Day
To Friar John Cor, by order of the King, to make aqua vitae, VIII bolls of malt.
— Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1 June 1495.
According to the Scotch Whisky Association, Scotch whisky evolved from a Scottish drink called uisge beatha, which means “water of life”. The earliest record of distillation in Scotland occurred as long ago as 1494, as documented in the Exchequer Rolls, which were records of royal income and expenditure. The quote above records eight bolls of malt given to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae (Latin for “water of life,” = uisge beatha) over the previous year. This would be enough for 1,500 bottles, which suggests that distillation was well-established by the late 15th century.
Whisky production was first taxed in 1644, causing a rise in illicit whisky distilling in the country. Between the 1760s and the 1830s a substantial unlicensed trade originated from the Highlands, forming a significant part of region’s export economy. In 1782, more than 1,000 illegal stills were seized in the Highlands: these can only have been a fraction of those in operation. The Lowland distillers, who had no opportunity to avoid taxation, complained that un-taxed Highland whisky made up more than half the market. The heavy taxation during the Napoleonic Wars gave the illicit trade a big advantage, but their product was also considered better quality, commanding a higher price in the Lowlands. This was due to the method of taxation: malt was subject to tax (at a rate that climbed substantially between the 1790s and 1822). The licensed distillers therefore used more raw grain in an effort to reduce their tax bill.:119-134
The Highland magistrates, themselves members of the landowning classes, had a lenient attitude to unlicensed distillers – all of whom would be tenants in the local area. They understood that the trade supported the rents paid. Imprisoned tenants would not be able to pay any rent.:119-134
In 1823, Parliament eased restrictions on licensed distilleries with the “Excise Act”, while at the same time making it harder for the illegal stills to operate. Magistrates found counsel for the crown appearing in their courts, so forcing the maximum penalties to be applied, with some cases removed to the Court of Exchequer in Edinburgh for tougher sentences. Highland landowners were now happy to remove tenants who were distillers in clearances on their estates. These changes ushered in the modern era of Scotch production: in 1823 2,232,000 gallons of whisky had duty paid on it; in 1824 this increased to 4,350,000 gallons.:119–134
Two events helped to increase whisky’s popularity: first, the introduction in 1831 of the column still; the whisky produced with this process was generally less expensive to produce and also less intense and smoother, because a column still can perform the equivalent of multiple distillation steps in a continuous distillation process. Second, the phylloxera bug destroyed wine and cognac production in France in 1880.
Born On This Day
1908 – Julie Campbell Tatham, American author (d. 1999)
Julie Campbell Tatham (June 1, 1908 – July 7, 1999) was an American writer of children’s novels, who also wrote for adults, especially on Christian Science. As Julie Campbell she was the creator of the Trixie Belden series (she wrote the first six) and the Ginny Gordon series. As Julie Tatham she also took over the Cherry Ames series and Vicki Barr series from Helen Wells.
Julie Campbell was born on June 1, 1908 in Flushing, New York, United States. She was the seventh of ten children of Julia deFres (Sample) and Archibald Campbell, an Army general, she also was a granddaughter of Army general.
On March 30, 1933, she married Charles Tatham Jr, and had two sons. In the 1940s, she created under her maiden name two series for Whitman Publishing Co, the Ginny Gordon series and the popular Trixie Belden series, continued by other writers under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny. Under her married name, she also wrote some books of Helen Wells’s series: Cherry Ames and Vicki Barr. She wrote during over 10 years before retiring.
Julie Tatham died on July 7, 1999 in Alexandria, Virginia, at the age of 91.
Roger Kynard “Roky” Erickson (July 15, 1947 – May 31, 2019) was an American singer-songwriter, harmonica player, and guitarist from Texas. He was a founding member of The 13th Floor Elevators and a pioneer of the psychedelic rock genre.
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