Fact Check: The First Whisky Was NOT Made In Scotland By Hungarian Immigrants


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Fact Check: The First Whisky Was NOT Made In Scotland By Hungarian Immigrants April Fools

Did Hungarian immigrants to Scotland create the first whisky in the early 18th century? No, that's not true: The first direct evidence of whisky production is found in a collection of ancient Irish chronicles, which recounts events in Ireland from prehistory to 1408. The author of the original post sharing the claim, which was published on Facebook, confirmed that it was an April Fools' Day joke that went viral.

The claim appeared in a TikTok video (archived here) on February 3, 2024. The post reads (translated from Hungarian to English by Lead Stories staff):

Few people know that after the defeat of the Rákóczi Revolution, a Hungarian family fled to Scotland from what is now Transcarpathia, from Visk in the Huszti district, to escape reprisals. There, in order to make a living, they began to brew and sell spirits from roasted grain based on the family's carefully guarded recipe. The drink quickly became popular among the locals, and since it had no name, it entered the public consciousness simply as viski (referring to the place of origin of the recipe). Later, in the English language, it appeared as whisky. Later, the family emigrated to America, where they sold it under their own brand as a drink named after the head of the family, Imre Bimbó, under the name Jim Beam Bo (the term Bo later became Bourbon).

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Wed Feb 7 18:38 2024 CET)

The screenshot used in the video is an April Fool's joke, posted on Facebook (archived here) on April 1, 2020, by a Transcarpathian Hungarian amateur writer, Tibor Lach. The joke is based on the similarity of the Hungarian word "viski," meaning "from Visk," and the English word "whisky," as well as the similarity of the Hungarian surname "Bimbó" and the surname of Jim Beam.

The author admitted in a comment that the story was made up as a joke for April Fools' Day, but is still popular. In response to a comment, he says (as translated):

T.V.: This is fake, right?

T.L.: Yes, it was written on April 1, but it became very popular so I left it up here...

Képernyőkép 2024-02-05 190423.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Feb 7 18:53:39 CET)

Irish whisky was first mentioned (archived here) in 1405 in the Annals of Clonmacnoise (archived here), a collection of old Irish chronicles. Scottish tax records first mention Scottish whisky in 1494 (archived here). However, the Hungarian Rakoczi Revolution mentioned by the author in the post, which caused the alleged Hungarian family of "Viski" producers to leave the country, ended in 1711.


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