This summer has spawned many articles and TV programmes on 1918, being the year women – or at least some of them – got the vote and the First World War ended.
Aberdeenshire, and the North-East generally, have lost many distilleries over the decades, but those which have survived are currently thriving. These include Fettercairn, Royal Lochnagar, Glengarioch, Macduff/Glen Deveron, Ardmore, Glendronach, Glenglassaugh and the quaintly-named An Cnoc.
It is interesting to contemplate how certain drinks (or brands) acquired their names. Wines are often named after their home village or area. Single malts are named after the distilleries that produce them. Other drinks are named after the company founder, be he Johnny Walker, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam or Mr Heineken.
Although Scotch whisky is doing exceptionally well at the moment, it is always worth looking a year or even several into the future to see where the industry is heading and where it might be a decade or so from now.
New whisky distilleries are not just a Scottish phenomenon, they are springing up in England, too, even in London. So far there are six south of the Border, and all are keen to make their mark.
Once in a blue moon, whisky history buffs like me stumble unexpectedly upon an unknown goldmine. That happened a few weeks back on a quiet, cobbled street in Belfast when I passed a whisky shop called, whimsically, The Friend at Hand. I went in – and it was an hour before I emerged.
It seems that single malt whiskies have all but matched the status of chateau-bottled great clarets. A good single malt, once the age statement is in double figures and the abv reading is 46% or cask-strength, has an aura that commands respect – and an increasingly high price tag.
For all that monasteries and convents are rare today, for centuries they were powerful institutions that played an important role in society. Monks were among the few people who could read and write in an era of near-total illiteracy. They also developed agricultural and scientific ideas and took them to other countries.
It is interesting how whisky distilling has changed, from the days of illicit stills in remote caves to the big pot and column stills of today. Yet the central process, separating alcohol from water, remains the same.
It seems the great distillery renaissance that is sweeping Scotland and England is also sweeping across the whole of Ireland. That is good news, as Ireland saw its whiskey industry decimated nearly a century ago by a string of cruel circumstances.