The earliest whisky was fairly bracing stuff, distilled almost exclusively by monks. It was never allowed to mature and tended to be very raw, as befitted a drink that was seen primarily as a medicine, used in the treatment of everything from pox to palsy.
Then along came Henry VIII who dissolved the monasteries and turned out the monks, whereupon whisky production made its way into the cottages and homesteads of regular Scots.
Over time, these ‘home distillers’ refined the process and discovered that whisky could be a pleasurable experience in its own right.
Fast forward to the early 19th Century and a dram of whisky was a staple of life in Scotland. Some became quite widely available, usually through your local grocer’s shop. The trouble was that these scotch whiskies weren’t always that consistent. The one you enjoyed yesterday might taste completely different tomorrow.
For one young man named John Walker - the proprietor of a grocer's in Kilmarnock - this wasn't good enough. He wanted his customers to enjoy the same quality and flavor time after time after time. So he began to blend them together until he produced a scotch whisky he was happy to put his name to.
And the rest, as they say, is history.