Although I try to appreciate all distilleries and their malts equally, there are some for which I have a soft spot. One of these is Bladnoch (pictured), first opened in 1817 near Wigtown, for decades the most southerly of the Lowland distilleries and indeed of all Scottish distilleries.
Detective fiction, Norse mythology and single malts are not obvious bedfellows but at a recent tasting of four Highland Park expressions in Edinburgh, they all came together during a most agreeable hour at the Caledonian Hotel.
Apart from working as a journalist, I have spent many years working as a tourist guide. Many foreign groups I accompany around Scotland have at least one distillery on their holiday itinerary, others are just one long pilgrimage to one distillery to the next.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is one of countless trade bodies across the UK that is trying to prepare for the uncertainties of Brexit. Whisky is one of Scotland’s, and Britain’s, most valuable exports, earning more than £4 billion a year overseas and UK sales earning the Treasury zillions from excise duty and VAT.
Many distilleries claim to be historical—the oldest in Scotland, the first licensed distillery, or whatever. However, a Fife distillery that opens this week/month stands on the site where whisky distilling was first recorded in Scotland.
What is really special about Lindores Distillery is its location and the site’s history. Although whisky buffs know all about Friar John Cor and his invoice, few people realise just how important the abbey was in its days before the Reformation.
I have often commented on the Scotch industry’s current obsession with “multiple expressions”. That is, producing ever more variants of the same whisky. In the past, there was simply one Glen Splash malt or one Grey Mare blend. Today there can be up to a dozen variants of either.
Until quite recent times, Irish whiskies came from just three sources – Midleton in County Cork, Cooley at Dundalk, Co Louth, and good old Bushmills in Co Antrim. All three belong to bigger distilling groups, respectively to Pernod-Ricard, Beam Suntory and Diageo.
Scotch whisky’s growing success in recent years is down to a number of factors. For a start, good advertising and “soft” marketing, such as having people drink single malts in a popular TV series.
I am often intrigued by little details of the whisky industry. One is why it doesn’t take a leaf out of the brewing industry’s book and remove all yeast from the wash before pumping it into the wash stills.