The first written mention of whisky distilling in Scotland dates from the late 15th century, at Lindores Abbey in Fife, Scotland. The mention comes from an order made by James IV, who by then had moved the Scottish capital to Edinburgh, so knowledge of the stuff must have been widespread throughout Scotland (at least, not confined to the Kingdom of Fife). Edinburgh isn’t too far from the English border, and at the time, towns in northern England were regularly switching from being held by English and then Scottish forces.
Despite this, to my knowledge there doesn’t appear to be a tradition, in England, of manufacturing whisky. It’s not as if there’s a shortage of barley, water or yeast: the English were regular beer brewers, but I can’t find mention of them ever making the leap to distilling the stuff.
Was there a tradition of making whisky in England? If so, how far back does it go? If not, can anybody speculate why?
(I’m aware of newly opened distilleries in England.)