The History of Scotch Whisky
Taught by David McNicoll
Although I now live in New York I come from the heart of the Scottish Highlands, a land steeped in
whisky in both story and song, and where I honed my knowledge and enjoyment of our national drink. Over the last decade I have taken that experience and built upon it, representing as ambassador several Scotch brands in the city. I am about to launch a new book exploring the ‘language of whisky’, and the origins of the names of those familiar bottles on the back-bar.
Whisky is the national drink of Scotland, and the most popular spirit in the world: it is a multi-billion dollar industry employing thousands globally and one of the UK’s leading exports. Yet, it is more, much more than this; it’s a story – a story of a drink, a culture, a people, a land and a way of life. From the humblest of origins, to the glamorous world of ‘Mad Men’ Scotch has come a long way, and it is a fascinating tale.
So, with glass in hand we will begin that journey and explore the origins of spirit, its eventual arrival into Scotland and how the process was refined and perfected to the malts and blends we enjoy today. We will also stare through the looking glass of time to the people who made whisky so popular; the fight against government and taxmen; halcyon days and the dark days; its global reach with roots still firmly planted in the hills and glens of rural Scotland.
I’ll explain how the stuff is actually made, where it is made and how geography as well as history has had a part to play in whisky’s development. How is Scotch different to Bourbon or Irish, and how have their stories differed and related to our saga? There are quirky stories, interesting characters and the mystery of the lost distilleries to illuminate us as we unravel the secret of the Water of Life. Oh, and you get to sample some too!
(Class size: 20ish, classroom session, 21+ only!)