"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

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Autumn Update

The days are shorter now.  As 2012 drifts towards a close I once more find the inevitable distractions of work getting in the way of more important activities, such as considering the connection between whisky and, well, everything.  It was Oscar Wilde that once declared that “work is the curse of the drinking classes”, his own work often intertwined with or inspired by alcohol, and I find myself somewhat agreeing with his sentiment as my own engagement with the drink of the nation has recently been rather curtailed by some gainful employment that crept up and ambushed me.

The days are shorter now, but my list of distilleries to research and record seems as long as ever.  I noted in my introductory posts on this blog that ‘I had taken on a project far larger, more complex, and utterly fascinating than I had ever imagined’ and this prophetic view has proven itself true.  Nevertheless, I am determined to continue the journey and complete this project, albeit at a somewhat slower pace than previously anticipated.  I owe it to every distillery and the enthusiastic ambassadors for their whiskies that I have met along the way to try and do some justice to their efforts and inspiration.  Each one will still find its place on these pages in due course; my heartfelt thanks and sincere apologies to those already visited and not yet posted.

The days are shorter now and the golden crop of barley has long been harvested.  We wait to hear the final story of this year’s yield - will we have enough grain to meet the increasing demand for whisky currently forecast for the years ahead, or has the wettest summer for 100 years dented the bounty.  Early indications are not good but it’s still way too early to think about panic buying.

The leaves have also transformed to cover the landscape with a mottled quilt of splendour.  It was John Black, the Master Distiller at Tullibardine Distillery, who pointed out to me the connection between autumn colours and whisky colours - look closer at the landscape and you may find almost every colour and shade of your favourite whiskies now represented in the natural spectacle of autumn leaf-fall.  Our fields and parks display a kaleidoscope of the left to middle bands of the visible spectrum - from the ember crackle and spark of an open fire through chestnut, russet and auburn into honey, straw-yellow and bales of hay.

The nights are longer now, too, and the weather colder, and the coming months are those that encourage the sipping of fine whisky in good company beside a glowing fire or in the warm embrace of your favourite tavern.  By such ingles, and in those hostelries, the sunlight captured in the pleasure of a good dram contrasts the darkness without; a warm comforting yang to the bleak winter yin.  Enjoy what drams you choose in the hours between the cursed distractions of work, whether chosen by taste, memory, or the inspiration of the colours now fading in the landscape around you.  Slàinte.