One of the great whisky-linked success stories is Bailey’s – Irish whisky and cream, plus other ingredients, which is a global phenomenon and has spawned countless imitations, none quite up to the original.
All Amber Lights Posts
It has always struck me that people in these islands – especially Scots and the Irish – have a strange attitude to drink, epitomised by a onetime friend who once said: “If I can remember the end of a party, it wasn’t a good one.” Of all folk in Western Europe, it seems we (especially when young) too often drink only to get tanked rather than enjoy the great taste and inner relaxation drink can bring.
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.
The German writer and philosopher Goethe once wrote: “Where there is the brightest light, there is also the darkest shadow.”
I must confess I have yet to get my head around the explosion of gin brands hitting the UK market in recent times. Where just a few years back stood the familiar line-up of Gordon’s, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater, Greenalls and the supermarkets’ own-label gin, ginophiles today are swamped by dozens of new names and brands in ever more exotic bottles with ever more fancy names and labels.
A former editor I knew once said to me: “Journalism is the only profession where you are never off duty.” And he was right. As a journalist, you never know when a chance chat in a pub, a fleeting glimpse of some cargo on a lorry or a dusty document in a drawer might lead you to a good story. And good stories are the lifeblood of journalism and, I hope, of Amber Lights.
There’s no doubt Scottish distilleries are becoming, along with Nessie and famous castles, big magnets attracting ever more tourists to Scotland. The Scotch Whisky Association reckons 1.7 million people visited Scotland’s distilleries last year. I can only urge those distilleries that haven’t yet contemplated a visitor centre to open one.
AT first sight, a Kentish vineyard seems as far removed from a whisky distillery as it is possible to imagine. However, when I recently visited Biddenden Winery south of Ashford, Kent, little details kept popping up that reminded me of whisky.
On the whole, I try to avoid politics in Amber Lights but every now and again, politics creep in, in this instance thanks to President Donald Trump.
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.