In earlier times, duty free shops at airports and elsewhere were magnets for just about everyone.
I have frequently commented on the Scottish boom in new distilleries, whether whisky or gin. Yet it pales beside the current Irish distillery boom.
Located 20 miles south of Dublin, Powerscourt is one of Ireland’s finest stately homes, has one of the world’s top 10 gardens and, since last year, boasts its own whiskey distillery.
After almost two decades of everything flowing Scotch whisky’s way, two big nasty clouds are about to darken the horizon—Brexit and the Trump-imposed 25% tariff on single malt exports to the US.
It is almost 80 years since the start of the Second World War, an event that had a huge – and in the final analysis benevolent – impact on the Scotch whisky industry.
Of all the cereals needed to make whisky, whether in Scotland or elsewhere, barley tops the list. The reason lies in one word: diastase, an enzyme plentiful in barley which spurs the crucial switch of starch to sugars, not just in barley but in other cereals as well.
Recent archaeological discoveries in the Middle East have revealed that homo sapiens started tippling several thousand years earlier than originally thought.
Anyone who has ever visited a distillery will have noticed how its warehouse walls and beams, especially if they are very old, are coated with what looks like soot.
Some 22 years ago I toured Ireland researching its 30-plus lost distilleries for a book. Among them, I recalled two vividly – Tullamore in Co Offaly and nearby Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath – because they were still standing but utterly abandoned and dilapidated. So it was a joy to revisit them recently and see both back in operation.
One of my favourite lost whisky distilleries was actually one in Courier Country, namely Stronachie, situated between Milnathort and Path of Condie in the Ochil Hills.