I’m having a great day, surrounded by stacks and stacks of books about Scotch whisky, making notes, and getting ready to start writing. Did I mention the snifter of Springbank 18, favorite CDs in the background, and making fascinating discoveries from three centuries ago?
Remember Hieronymus Brunschwig, the German physician, chemist and pharmacologist? Me either. Seems he wrote Little Book of Distillation in 1519, giving instructions on how to distill aqua vitae – the water of life (whisky). Due to its descriptions and illustrations of distillation equipment, it was considered an authoritative text well into the 16th century.
In 1577, Raphael Hollinshed wrote (with others) Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland. In it he wrote about whisky:
“It sloweth age, it strengtheneth youth, it helpeth digestion, it cutteth flegme,
it relisheth the harte, it lighteneth the mynd, it quickeneth the spirits,
it cureth the hydropsie, it repelleth gravel … and trulie it is a sovereign
liquor if it be orderlie taken.”
In 1587, a second volume, confined just to the British Isles, was released. In it, Hollinshed provided material about Scottish Kings Duncan and Macbeth. Some twenty years later, William Shakespeare would draw on this material for several plays, including Macbeth, King Lear and Cymbeline.
Time for another Springbank.