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….
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.
One country that produces plenty of whisky is India. One can assume that during the Raj, when Brits met at their exclusive clubs and ordered whisky—a chota pegg (small), or burra pegg (large)—club staff must have spread the word that this Scotch spirit was good stuff.
After almost two decades of everything flowing Scotch whisky’s way, two big nasty clouds are about to darken the horizon—Brexit and the Trump-imposed 25% tariff on single malt exports to the US.
For all that monasteries and convents are rare today, for centuries they were powerful institutions that played an important role in society. Monks were among the few people who could read and write in an era of near-total illiteracy. They also developed agricultural and scientific ideas and took them to other countries.
One slightly overused cliché in the whisky business is The Angels’ Share, that 2% or so annual evaporation through the oaken walls of casks where the whisky sleeps until it is ready for bottling.
As Amber Lights readers will be aware, I have opposed Scotland’s minimum pricing policy from Day One.
It seems that single malt whiskies have all but matched the status of chateau-bottled great clarets. A good single malt, once the age statement is in double figures and the abv reading is 46% or cask-strength, has an aura that commands respect – and an increasingly high price tag.