Category Archives: Liquid Fundas

HISTORY IN A GLASS – AND IT’S NOT SCOTCH!

Forty Creek Barrel Select

 

Give an Irishman lager for a month and he’s a dead man. An Irishman is lined with copper and the beer corrodes it. But whiskey polishes the copper and is the saving of him – Mark Twain.

One has to acknowledge that the Scots were responsible for ensuring that whisky became man’s best friend. The British, took to it when they were denied their then favourite tipple – French brandy & Cognac – thanks to the phylloxera virus that plagued French vineyards in 1860s. And as they continued on their journey to conquer the world, they left behind the legacy of this wonderful amber potation.

While a fair part of the world was sipping scotch, America & Canada were being gradually inhabited by immigrants, nay gold diggers, desperados, runaways, believers in the new world… Many of these came from distilling nations – Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Holland, Norway, Sweden. Having established themselves, planted their grains, their surplus was soon put to good use. Making whiskey. You notice it’s spelt with an extra ‘e’. I can think of two reasons why – their penchant for changing everything British, the Irish influence.

AN ODE TO THE SINGLE MALT

 

“I drink only single malts!” Should we laud this pompous ass? Or look upon him with awe. Should we hang on to every word that drips from his lips? Or, oops, was that a drool?! Is bandying words with buddies of a single malt club over this one against the other the road to understanding the soul of the single malt? Am I being cynical? Is pretentious better? In our search for identity, we often lose sight of the real deal. Complexity of flavour. And the joys of discovery.

So why the fuss? When did the world suddenly wake up to this mystic creature. This wonder from the wild. The golden nectar. The mother lode!

Malt whisky has always existed. It was the first and only whisky to be distilled in Scotland (and Ireland too) for years on end. All over the Scottish countryside, especially where the land was fertile and the water in plenty, farming families had discovered the joys of distilling. Travelling monks has ensured that alongside preaching God’s word, the art of ‘uisge beatha’ (whishke baha) or ‘water of life’ was also well established. Barley was in plenty, and what was left over from food & fodder was malted & either, fermented (beer) and drunk or distilled (malt whisky) to keep.