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.
Among the countless rare malts I enjoyed while browsing around the independently-run Whisky Fair at Limburg were some I hadn’t seen on a Scottish bar shelf for more years than I can count.
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.
One unappreciated and unsung link in the chain between distillery and your local supermarket or off-licence is the distributor. And the big distribution name in the whisky world, and indeed the spirits world generally, is Gordon and MacPhail of Elgin.
It has often surprised — and saddened — me to hear so many people, including countless Scots, say they don’t like whisky and would never drink it.
What never fails to amaze me is the enthusiasm for Scotch whisky I see in other countries. Indeed, Scotland sometimes seems to be the one nation that is losing pride and passion for its national drink — whereas, go overseas and in many places Scotchmania rules the roost.
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.
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.
Diageo’s announcement that long-embalmed Port Ellen and Brora distilleries are re-opening is great news. One might ask what took them so long? Both have been shut for decades and, as a result, each new edition of dwindling whisky stocks fetched ever-higher prices.
It may be a cliché but certain families have whisky in their blood — namely, the urge to make good whisky passes from generation to generation.