Britain’s recent surge of new distilleries largely stems from law changes that opened up distilling to small firms, even private individuals, for the first time in more than two centuries.
It has always fascinated me that Dundee, a city where whisky consumption has always been pretty high, only ever had one legal distillery, Dudhope, that distilled briefly before and after 1820.
If there is one place in Britain where I suspect the Scottish Government is the No 1 pet hate, it is in Cornwall and the West Country. Why? Because their minimum pricing policy has effectively decimated sales of cider in Scotland. A two-litre bottle of supermarket’s-own cider has spiralled from £2 to £5 (that’s 150%) and canned ciders have also suffered crippling price rises.
The Scotch whisky industry is today not just big but influential and highly respected. That stands in stark contrast to the way it was seen 200 and more years ago. Government laws and taxation had driven almost all legitimate distillers out of business and illicit distilling and smuggling were rampant.
No one can fail to notice the plethora of new distilleries—mainly distilling gin—sprouting on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall, and across the sea in Ireland. I’ve lost track of all the gin distilleries in Scotland but keep an eye open for whisky distilleries.
I don’t know whether people in the whisky industry are incurable optimists, but it has surprised me how very few industry spokespeople have commented critically on the possible effects of Brexit.
I have always felt Aberdeenshire distilleries are among the most underrated in the business. They all produce great single malts but don’t get the coverage and acclaim accorded to Speyside and Islay whiskies.
Several times I’ve mentioned two globally best-selling whiskies which we hardly ever see, or have even heard of, in Britain. These are Label 5 (currently Number 9 in worldwide sales) and William Peel (Number 6).
It is almost 80 years since the start of the Second World War, an event that had a huge – and in the final analysis benevolent – impact on the Scotch whisky industry.
Distilling seems to be THE growth industry in these islands. This stems from growing global demand for spirits and to UK legal changes that encouraged the start-up of small, independent distilleries for the first time in two centuries. The new distillery list is formidable, with others being mooted and planned every month.