Friends in Spirit

Why we are all whisky apostles

There are a few things that can be guaranteed to bring people together. Family and similar faith beliefs are two things, following a sports team another. Can whisky join people together in a similar way?

Yes it can.

While I try hard to avoid plagiarism, there are certain things that have to be copied on account of their absolute truth. The first thing that I am going to reference from another source is the saying “There are no strangers in whisky”, which came from my friend Roy who runs Aqua Vitae, a YouTube channel basically doing what I’m doing, but he’s further down the road than I am in his journey, plus he’s doing his as a vlog (video blog). I won’t do that any time soon as I don’t have the time due to my day job and family. Plus I have a perfect face for radio! Hahahahah! But his point is true; whisky is a drink that is meant to be shared. Think of most Scottish weddings or golf outing, and the hip flasks are full to the gunwales at the start and they get shared. A traditional gift in Scotland is a Quaich, a two handled bowl to share and pass on whisky. Sharing your dram is the thing to do, even if you are a collector or an investor. Make sure you have bottles that you can open and share!

My second item of plagiarism for this article is from the Scottish comedian, Billy Connelly. He’s definitely a like or love act, but I have a few of his performances on my iPod, and his method of describing a comedic scene is second to none and usually has me in fits of laughter. One of his sketches involve the description of a typical woolly jumper and bearded hiker in the Scottish Highlands maybe 30 or 40 years ago. The line he uses that I am thinking of is when the hiker says “There are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet!” I can’t deliver the punch line, you need to hear it for yourself…..

Anyway, recent experiences this week have got me thinking about this. And my ultimate act of plagiarism is based on these experiences.

Railway line side of Dalwhinnie distillery.

My first experience was on the train to Glasgow. As I had booked a ticket, Scotrail automatically book you a seat. However on a 4 carriage train, they seat all the reserves together. The carriage was packed and I had a rear facing aisle seat, without a table and there was somebody sitting beside me. Cutting a long story short, he was part of a group that had been touring whisky distilleries in Scotland, and all of them were quite experienced in whisky matters. Of course, we started talking about whisky experiences and although not a drop of spirit passed through our lips, the essence and enthusiasm for the spirit did. I was pretty sad to need to leave the train at Perth to change for Glasgow. An hour and a half of journey disappeared in an instant.

The secondary reason for going to Glasgow was to pick up a small batch of old whisky miniatures that I won at auction, and to see if there were any bargains in the specialist whisky retailers I visit. In both retailers I stood and had discussions with the assistant, and picked up some tips, thus passing another 40 minutes. In the Robert Graham (1874) shop on West George Street, I also picked up a Ledaig (Tobermory) miniature which was bottled under the Robert Graham brand of Dancing Stag. This was to be used as a thank you for my neighbour who was going to be exercising and feeding my dog in my absence.

Robert Graham shop on West George Street , Glasgow

Within the batch of miniatures was one produced for the 350th Anniversary for Dunoon High School. A conversation with another neighbour revealed that they went to that school. As I never bought the batch for that one (it was the one for the Royal Hotel in Kingussie I wanted) I gave it to my neighbour who is overjoyed. Some of you reading this may know who it is, and it is through my gift that you have been invited to like this page – I hope you enjoy it!

Anniversary bottle of blended whisky

Anyway, we need to be moving on to the conclusion, and it comes down to this; there are quite a few followers on the Scotty’s Drams business page who I know, but maybe won’t see again, or not for a long time. There are people I have met on the train who I told about this page (and I noticed the likes going up, but I think privacy settings are stopping me seeing their names on the list – if you are reading send a message Steve, Mark & co.) and there are my neighbours who now have a relevant bottle for them through the gift of whisky. The conclusion is, and the product of my copying others sayings gives this –

“There are no strangers in whisky, just friends you haven’t met yet.”

Certainly this has been true for me. While I try not so much as to evangelise too much, as everybody has a different tolerance to this, when we share our whisky experiences, we effectively become ‘Whisky Apostles’ as we spread the word. There are no real barriers (even if you put ice in your single malt – although that is close to the line!). Nobody really is trying to get one up; there is no competition. We just want to pass on what we know.

Full size Ledaig 2008 Dancing Stag.

Finally, it is worth bearing in mind that when we offer a traditional toast with Whisky, it’s usually “Slainte Mhath” which is Scots Gaelic for ‘Good Health’ and pronounced “Slanj-a Vaar”. When we have a whisky, we wish those sharing it with us all the best, and why wouldn’t we?

With this, I’ll bid you a goodbye in whisky friendship.

Slainte Mhath.

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