Benromach has long been one of my favourite distilleries and I recently was able to sample three of its single malt expressions—and all three were delectable.
When historic hotels get a facelift, all too often the interior is remorselessly gutted and starkly modernised, with just the façade and possibly the cellar bar left unaltered.
It has often struck me that different nations and cultures, for all their differences, share certain aspects of folklore in common.
Angus Dundee Distillers are one of these firms whose importance is in inverse proportion to their coverage in the media. Put simply, it’s a firm you have hardly ever heard of but they are a big player in the industry. Roughly 5% of the whisky that leaves Scotland in bottles or tankers is supplied by them. In a £4 billion-plus industry, we may be talking about £200 million-plus.
As someone who has banged the gong for whisky tourism and urged distilleries to open visitor centres, I’m delighted to see that everyone from the Scotch Whisky Association to VisitScotland is singing from that same hymn sheet.
Having described the effects of US Prohibition, both on America and the wider world, it is only proper to say the temperance movement a century ago was not solely a US phenomenon. In December 1920 Scotland held local referendums on outlawing alcohol and many places voted “dry” and closed their pubs and off-licences, many for decades.
Aside from several Islamic countries, no nation on earth bans alcoholic drink, and the reason is simple. They have learned the lesson from Prohibition, when the US banned alcoholic drink from 1920-33, arguably the most disastrous policy adopted by a democratic state in modern history – although Brexit may well come to supersede it in the long run...
Some years ago, I mentioned one of the great, if now largely forgotten, names in the history of Scotch whisky, that of Charles Doig. Born on a farm near Lintrathen and originally employed in an architect’s office in Meigle, he eventually moved to Elgin and became the greatest distillery architect of all time.
The continuing expansion of Scotch whisky, with countless new distilleries opening and existing distilleries upping production, means demand for malt is growing hand over fist.
The Scotch whisky industry is today not just big but influential and highly respected. That stands in stark contrast to the way it was seen 200 and more years ago. Government laws and taxation had driven almost all legitimate distillers out of business and illicit distilling and smuggling were rampant.