John Cor

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John Cor is the name of the monk referred to in the first known written reference to a batch of Scotch Whisky on 1 June 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.


  1. ^ quoted in Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, vol. 1 (Edinburgh 1877), p. ccxiv footnote; "Et per liberacionem factam Fratri Johanni Cor per preceptum compotorum rotulatoris, ut asserit, de mandato domini regis ad faciendum aquavite, infra hoc compotum viij bolle brasii."
  2. ^ Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, vol. 1 (Edinburgh 1877), p. ccxiv, 100, 232
  • "Scotland and Its Whiskies". Author Michael Jackson. Page 127. Published by Duncan Baird, London