"The Language of Whisky" Reading– A New Perspective
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.
“Malt whisky is like the Scots tongue—broadly one language yet, within that, so many different dialects, each one unique to its own distillery. It is this subtle distinction which gives every malt its unmistakable identity”
Walk into any half-decent bar and you will be met by a bewildering range of Single Malt Scotch Whisky: a genuine cornucopia of flavor profiles and styles. But have you ever stopped to think what the actual names of those whiskies mean and where they come from? There’s a veritable library of books out there to guide you through the minefield of taste and production methods, and plenty ‘how-to-drink’ manuals gathering dust. This is the nuts and bolts stuff, and the intro into your own take and enjoyment of the glass in hand. The ‘Language of Whisky’ is a new book with a different approach, much more focused on the cultural and social history behind those famous labels: a horizon where geography and the past collide.
I’ll examine the origins of the place-names themselves and how they reflect the linguistic heritage of Scotland and take the opportunity to glance through the looking glass to the lost world of our ancestors revealing and bringing to life their universe, the landscapes and how they lived and worked it from inner-city slums to the stunning windswept beaches of the Hebridean Islands. And, just as importantly how they would describe that world from the mundane to the spiritual: a legacy that remains with us to this very day in story, song and of course a glass of whisky. Along the way we’ll also meet some of the characters who made Scotch such a success. As the host of the ‘History of Scotch’ class, I’d like to invite you along to hear that back-story and enjoy a reading from the book as it prepares to hit the shelves. I’ll also strip away at the industry-speak or ‘expert’ blurb that can simply confuse things, and lay all things bare regarding our national drink. Oh, and we’ll try a couple of single malts to jolly the evening along.