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.
It has often struck me that different nations and cultures, for all their differences, share certain aspects of folklore in common.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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 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.
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.
I have frequently commented on the Scottish boom in new distilleries, whether whisky or gin. Yet it pales beside the current Irish distillery boom.