We have to give credit to BBC TWO for another enjoyable episode of insight and storytelling.
Episode 2 of the television series Scotch! The Story of Whisky.
David Hayman feels that the Scottish terrain and air are just as important as science. He visits Islay, rejoicing in the land and people who make it The Whisky Island. On Speyside, he encounters the progression of whisky from illicit distilling to a landmass dominated by global brands. Scotch’s profile and sales would be lost without marketing. Though image does not always meet with reality, as Hayman learns. Finally, at a fine whisky auction, the tale of Scotch’s lucrative investment and collection sub-industry is told.
Scotland’s national drink is very much a worldwide phenomenon, with David revealing that some 30 countries produce their own take on Scotch.
Tasmania, halfway round the world, is just one of them and he clocked up the air miles only to find it was strangely familiar. “These upstarts are snapping at our heels and they’re making damn fine whisky,” smiles David as he sits down in a Glasgow bar – soft drink in hand – to talk to iN10. “Tasmania has won two world awards in the past few years, including Malt Whisky of the Year. “They have a similar climate and when their peat was analysed it had exactly the same properties as peat here. “There’s 15 distilleries on the island and it’s superb, really delicious whisky.” David’s travels also took him to Japan where he sampled their sweeter-tasting fare which trendy locals happily consume as highballs in smart bars. Tight filming schedules meant shooting – and supping – at odd hours.
“I think my earliest tasting for the cameras was at 9.40am, which, honestly, was a record for me,” says David, who recalls hating his first whisky experience, sips of his dad’s dram at Hogmanay parties. “As well as the foreign trips, I was in London talking to bartenders who create the most amazing cocktails. “They had cream and all sorts in them and while I had to taste them I didn’t really enjoy them.”
The programmes look at the rich history and the sometimes even richer present, with multimillion pound investments and multibillion pound income. But some of the places that have fared less well also feature.
“I was in Campbeltown where there used to be 36 distilleries and now there are just two because tastes have changed. “Speyside’s gentler whiskies took over and you see shells of buildings and can really sense the ghosts of bygone distillers.”
BBC Two Scotch! The Story of Whisky Episode 2