Writers tend to be voracious readers and I always look for old or unusual whisky books in second-hand bookshops or at car boot sales.
Some 22 years ago I toured Ireland researching its 30-plus lost distilleries for a book. Among them, I recalled two vividly – Tullamore in Co Offaly and nearby Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath – because they were still standing but utterly abandoned and dilapidated. So it was a joy to revisit them recently and see both back in operation.
As Amber Lights readers will be aware, I have opposed Scotland’s minimum pricing policy from Day One.
For decades, Perth was a key centre of the whisky industry, its clout and repute built on three pioneering names—Dewar, Bell and Gloag.
I have always been fascinated by the amazing range of bottle sizes (and shapes and styles) that whisky and other spirits get sold in. From miniatures to magnums, and countless other sizes, drink can be bought in every conceivable liquid measure.
Few people outside car enthusiast circles would today would know much about, or show much appreciation for, Lea Francis, although for many years it was a significant UK car maker. But like so many other manufacturers, fate was not always on its side….
Of all the cereals needed to make whisky, whether in Scotland or elsewhere, barley tops the list. The reason lies in one word: diastase, an enzyme plentiful in barley which spurs the crucial switch of starch to sugars, not just in barley but in other cereals as well.
Recent archaeological discoveries in the Middle East have revealed that homo sapiens started tippling several thousand years earlier than originally thought.
At a time of whisky boom and new distilleries opening almost monthly, it may seem strange to harp on about vanished distilleries. However, more than 100 Scots distilleries, plus countless bonded warehouses and other whisky-linked buildings, have disappeared in the past century or so.
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.