This mention of Scotch whisky reminds me of a radio show I heard many years ago talking about the history of the liquor. The gist of it is that although part of the credit for the modern distilling process that enabled large-scale production goes to a Scotsman, Robert Stein, it was actually an Irishman, Aeneas Coffey, who improved on Stein's design to make the process cheaper and more efficient and thus economically viable. Coffey had been for many years the head of Customs and Excise in Dublin and, as the Crown's representative in Ireland and the person who was responsible for destroying illegal stills and collecting taxes, was a hated figure at the time. He also had a keen interest in whiskey, though, and had the technical skills to come up with his own his improved still design. When he left his position as the number one excise man, he patented his invention and tried to get backing to apply the invention in his native Ireland. Due to his past, however, nobody would support his endeavour (apart from one brief, failed venture, it seems) and he was forced to travel abroad in order to further his venture. So it was that he came to have his invention put to practical use in Scotland where, through a combination of his inventiveness, happenstance (a disease affecting grapes used in the premier spirit of the time--Cognac--left an opening in the market, while the whisky produced appealed to the English taste) and venture capital, Scotch whisky effectively exploded onto the scene and changed the industry completely.
So in short, the single malt whiskies that are today synonymous with Scotch, actually owes a huge debt to the Irish--on the one hand thanks to Coffey's design, but also, on the other, thanks to the spite of his fellow Irishmen in turning their back on his invention due to his past job and associations.
As the OP said, I might get punched in the face for recounting this story were I in Scotland. As we're online, though, I think that downvotes are a more likely outcome, so I've had to do a bit of searching to corroborate this account. I wasn't able to verify everything, but these two links seem to cover the basic outline: