Does Scotch Whisky Originate from the Vikings

Mark Reynier posted a very interesting, and different view, on the origins of our "Water of Life". Mark says that you can read in every whisky book that Irish missionaries brought whisky distillation to Scotland. In his blog post today, however, he comes up with a surpring alternative and says that it is not impossible that the Vikings brough the art of whisky distillation to Scotland.

Mark Reynier: The first distillation of Scotch whisky may have been around six hundred and fifty years earlier than Friar Cor’s record, around 845 AD, courtesy of the Vikings. The Vikings not only summer-travelled westwards. The Varangians, "sworn people", with their oaths of fighting loyalty, voyaged eastwards.

In Syria, around the year 800, Gerber the Arab became the first person to record the process of alcoholic distillation, the production of the water of life. The grain used was Bere, the precursor cereal to modern barley, which originated in the region 7,000 years ago. It spread around Europe with the earliest farmers that resettled after the last period of glaciation. It is an intriguing possibility that the Varangians uncovered Gerber’s new secret potion - the wonderful, magical, Water of Life. Pretty useful stuff for a warrior. The Vikings, it seems, were at the right place at the right time.

And if they came down the Dneiper, Dniester, Danube and the Volga rivers they could have gone back to Scandinavia the same way. Silk, found in Viking York, came from this part of the world - so why not the knowledge (Gerber) and the wherewithal (Bere) to distil a warrior’s best friend, the water of life?

Make sure to read more about Mark's theory at

Tag: bruichladdich vikings water of life whisky