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World Whisky Day
"The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man's determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed."
~ David Daiches (1912-2005)
And who can say better than that! Whisky drinkers ... today is the day to celebrate with whisky lovers worldwide through tastings, events and gatherings (virtual or otherwise). If you've long pondered the difference in the spelling of this spirit, the current convention is that Irish and American whiskeys are spelled with the 'e', and that Scottish, Canadian, and Japanese whiskys are spelled without. However, some bourbons and Tennessee whiskies, buck this convention. Created to celebrate Scotch Whisky, fondly referred to as ‘the Water of Life’, this tartan's design embodies the origin story of Scotch - the first written record of whisky production in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland noted on the 1st of June in1494 - and also colour references the Tironensian Grey Monks of Lindores Abbey who are credited with the first distillation of 'uisge beatha' (the water of life). Sláinte! 🥃
The story of Scotch begins as early as the 15th century.
In the tax records of the day in 1494, an entry lists:
“Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae.”
This was enough malted barley to produce almost 1,500 bottles of what is now termed "Scotch" whisky.
This tartan, designed by Steven Patrick Sim, is the third interpretation of the designer’s creation of whisky related tartans with colour references to his Scotch Whisky and Angel's Share tartans designs.
Over time, the increasing popularity of Scotch attracted the attention of the Scottish Parliament, looking to profit from the fledgling industry. The first taxes on Scotch were introduced in 1644 which led to an increase in illicit whisky distilling across Scotland.
Smuggling became standard practice for the next 150 years in order to avoid the excisemen, or gaugers, including Robert Burnn, who trained as an exciseman before turning his attention to writing, including his famous ode wo whisky, the 1785 poem "Scotch Drink".
By the 1820s, as many as 14,000 illicit stills were being confiscated every year, and more than half the whisky consumed in Scotland was "untaxed."
Eventually, in the 19th century, the Duke of Gordon, on whose extensive lands some of the finest illicit whisky in Scotland was being produced, proposed in the House of Lords that the government should make it profitable to produce whisky legally.
In 1823 the Excise Act was passed, which sanctioned the distilling of whisky in return for a licence fee of £10, and a set payment per gallon of proof spirit. As a result, smuggling almost completely declined over the next decade, and many of the present day historic distilleries stand on sites forerly used by the smugglers.
Find something whisky-related to celebrate by viewing the World Whisky Day site by clicking the glass!