Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Scots Corner - Blair Atholl Distillery

I hope nobody (including my parents) with Scottish blood in them whacks me for what I am about to say - I don't like whisky. Some of my cousins are now probably rolling in their graves because they made the stuff at the Glengoyne Distillery near Loch Lomond and were good at it.
So why this post. Because whisky has long been part of Scotland's heritage and safe to say the best on the planet comes from there :) I even know a site http://www.whiskywise.com/ run by Steve Woodworth, whose wife I might add does not like the stuff either :)
Also because what just so happened to be across the street from us when we stopped of in Pitlochry for another kind of fill up. (Deisel for the van.) None other than the Blair Atholl Distillery which is famous for Bells Whisky. It's one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland having been established in 1798.
I'm not sure what was going on in Pitlochry when we drove through (trying really hard to find a decent parking spot and failing miserably) but the place was jammed packed with cars and people. It's a very popular tourist destination and two of my brothers used to work in the village. I have a cousin that lives there and loves the place. http://www.pitlochry.org/
So back to the whisky. There is a whisky trail that is very popular not only for the liquid gold but also for the food and the scenery. Some of the buildings are pretty interesting to see. I spotted my favorite one when we were driving down a mountain and managed to get a photo of it as we charged on by. Woohoo :)
Long ago (17th century) when the Scottish government realised that they could maybe make some money off of this "peat water" they decided to tax it. Silly people. A lot of the production went "underground" i.e. into the woods and hills and finished produce would turn up in places like coffins and churches. After an Act of Parliament in 1823 to reduce license and duty costs some of the illicit stills became "official" and still exist. The earliest documented distilling dates from around 1494 so the Scots have been pickling everyone for a mighty long time :)
Whisky comes from the Gaelic "uisge beatha" which means "water of life" and was originally used for medicinal purposes. Ho, ho, ho. I guess it does dull the nerves somewhat. For you Americans out there did you know it was used as currency during the Revolutionary War and that it it partly responsible for the formation of the IRS?


Michele Matucheski said...

I had to laugh at this one! I don't care for whiskey either. I'm glad I'm not the only one. On a trip to Scotland in 2005, I got some whiskey for the menfolk in my family. The lady who helped me pick out the whiskey assured me this type had a nice orange after-taste. 4 years later, I'm still waiting for that orange after glow!

Carol said...

That is too funny :)