TODAY, Scots and Irish argue about who can call themselves the inventor of whiskey. What is certain is that Christian missionaries brought the centuries-old art of distilling to the Celts - instead of perfume and medicine, they used it to produce alcoholic beverages. However, these were also used as medicine: the originally Gaelic name "uisge beatha" literally means "water of life" - and was shortened to "whiskey" by the English. The new medicine met with great enthusiasm, and private distilleries sprang up everywhere. While barley and oats were predominantly used for production in Ireland, the Scots used almost every grain. To do this, however, they heated their ovens with peat instead of coal, giving their distillates the typical smoky aroma that still characterizes Scotch whiskey today.