"Having long been possessed with an ardent desire to see the Distilleries of Scotland...", Alfred Barnard, 1885

"O Thou, my muse! guid auld Scotch drink", from Scotch Drink, by Robert Burns

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

2 - Beginnings

"Having long been possessed with an ardent desire to see the Distilleries of Scotland…"

Thus begins the opening chapter of Barnard’s journey round the whisky distilleries of Great Britain. This turned out to be a sentiment I expressed (perhaps foolishly, time will tell) to friends in Edinburgh some time in 2009, long before I knew anything about Barnard. This notion grew in my mind as I sold my flat, quit my job and settled into the far too comfortable position of being funemployed.

After some research and more foolish public mutterings on the subject, I began to formulate a plan for my trip which should have begun late 2009. But you know how these things go – too much dramming and not enough planning, too much dreaming and not enough scheming. Enough! It was then that I found Barnard (as his writings will here be known as). I picked up this random book in the window of a bar in Edinburgh while enjoying a few fine whiskies one evening. After reading only a few pages I realised that this was the inspiration I needed to get my butt in gear and push on with my dream of visiting what I thought were around 100 current distilleries in Scotland.

After more months of planning (procrastination) this blog has been created to record the journey I have now, finally, embarked on (about bloody time! Hush now). My plan is to visit the sites of all the whisky distilleries in Scotland listed in Barnard, plus those that have opened since and are still open, and a number of those that have opened and closed in the interim as the whisky industry waxed and waned in investment potential and interest in its products.

My estimate of 100 has now grown to 176 ‘sites’ and rising as I explore more of this fascinating subject. All these sites, and the locations of hotels and inns, are now plotted on a Google map, recording the exact locations of each one after weeks of cross referencing details with the historic maps that have been digitised by the National Library of Scotland (a fantastic free resource that anyone can access through the NLS website).  I will post links to my lists and the map at a later date.

I have taken on a project far larger, more complex, and utterly fascinating than I had ever imagined. I may need a dram or two to help me get through this!