Several times in Amber Lights I have urged distilleries without visitor centres to establish one, as it would be a good long-term investment. And I still adhere to that.
Most classic cars tend to have long and glorious histories, even if the grim reaper of the car world eventually seals their fate.
Every year, several books or compendia of the best whiskies are published and nominate various whiskies from all over the world as their top 20, or top 10, or top five, whiskies—and newspaper headlines broadcast whatever the top nominee is. And very often the whisky is not Scotch.
It is a fact that governments, in the UK and elsewhere, are increasingly attracted to what one might call “consumption taxes” instead of direct ones such as income tax. And in Britain, arguably the number one consumption tax after VAT is the excise duty on alcohol.
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.
Although the rest of humanity yearly becomes more appreciative of Scotch whisky, it seems the Scots themselves are becoming yearly more addicted to vodka.
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.
Whisky has now become not just a popular drink, but also a major field of study. From whisky appreciation weekends to in-depth whisky tours to university courses, whisky knowledge has almost become an industry in itself. And, year after year, new books on whisky are published that have to jostle for shelf space with those already there.
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.
With the festive season looming, all supermarkets, off-licences and other outlets start offering some excellent bargains on the drinks front, with blended and malt whiskies to the fore. Indeed, if your wallet or credit card is loaded enough, I would advise buying as much as possible during this bargain bonanza time.