As the population of the planet grows and landfill sites are filling up we have…
If you ask someone what is the first thing they think of when they think of Scotland it is likely that the answer will be one of 3 things; tartan, haggis and of course our beloved dram – whisky. It is arguably our greatest ever export and is one of the UK’s top ten exports today. Our spirit of life can trace its history back over 500 years and today it regularly soothes the parched lips of drinkers worldwide. Although now it seems legitimate whisky brewers are suffering at the hands of counterfeit knock offs.
The whisky industry is no stranger to illicit practices when it comes to distillation, in fact one might even argue that the industry itself was built upon it. The first written records of whisky distilled in Scotland date back as far as 1494 however the spirit produced then was far from what we consider to be whisky now. Originally the spirit was not allowed to age and so was raw and potent, although this did not stop monks from using it as a medicinal cure for almost every ailment under the sun. By the 16th century advances in distillation were made which improved taste considerably allowing whisky to grow in popularity. In doing so however the taxman took notice and ensuing acts of parliament drove whisky production underground for almost 150 years. As distillers sought isolation and refuge in the countryside in order to make their spirit, all ingredients had to be sourced locally to avoid detection providing Scottish whisky with the regional variations in beautiful flavors and aromas that we still experience to this day.
Since the subsequent legalization of whisky distillation and its new found international popularity many a crook has sought to ride the coat tails of success in pursuit of a quick profit by producing counterfeit whisky, often using methanol as opposed to ethanol as alcoholic content. Not only has this damaged the income and reputation legitimate distillers – many of whom began life as illicit stills – but for anyone unfortunate enough to drink these spirits, the effects could be fatal.
It is no wonder then that the UK government has taken it upon themselves to form the ‘Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme’ in order to help consumers identify genuine UK products. Something that the Scottish Whisky Association welcomes, no doubt as do distillers of premium single malts such as Auchentoshan or Glenfiddich. The scheme also aims to protect other regional spirits such as Somerset cider brandy; however it is still unclear whether this will damage companies whose spirits are made in the UK but bottle abroad.
So it seems that once again the whisky industry has become the subject of government legislation hopefully this time for the better. One may find it amusing when they consider how ironic it is that laws once used to curb and regulate the production of whisky are now acting to protect it, either way if it allows us to enjoy our favorite dram for years to come then I’m sure it won’t be met with too much resistance.
An enthusiastic blogger and a whisky lover. For more blogs and news about everything whisky, follow me on twitter.
Featured image provided by author
More on the history and appreciation of Whisky. Here’s a long long documentary. Cheers!
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