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Whisky And Culture

Take part in our whisky polls and votes. You can also post your own polls in this forum.

How important to you is appreciation of Scottish culture/geography/history in the appreciation of Scotch whisky?

They are hand-in-glove
9
32%
Moderately important
7
25%
Mildly important
6
21%
Pass the bottle, forget that other crap
6
21%
 
Total votes : 28

Whisky And Culture

Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:52 pm

For drinkers of Scotch: How important is an appreciation of Scottish culture, history, or geography to you in appreciating whisky? I ask this because I came to whisky from an interest in these other aspects of Scottishness. I assume there are others whose interest in Scotland was sparked by their love of whisky, and still others who love whisky and couldn't care less about the other stuff. Aside from answering the question, I hope you'lll share your feelings about the matter.
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Postby pouranother » Fri Aug 11, 2006 8:58 pm

I don't think important is the right word to describe my appreciation of the Scottish culture, history, and geography. I am certainly more interested in some aspects of each of those topics with geography and traditions being the most interesting to me, but I wouldn't deem them important.

I have found that since I've discovered malts, I've begun to appreciate things a lot more. I certainly have a much greater appreciate for the process of making whisky, down all the way to the water, wood that is used. More important than all of that, without romanticing too much :oops: , I appreciate the little things in life a great deal more.

I think I got off topic, sorry. To make a long story short, impotant to me; no, interesting; yes.
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Postby Aidan » Fri Aug 11, 2006 9:34 pm

I'm sure Scottish culture is interesting, but it doesn't have anything to do with my apreciation of scotish whisky. If a distillery from a particularly historical and geographically beautiful place made crap whisky, I wouldn't drink it.
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Re: Whisky And Culture

Postby Muskrat Portage » Fri Aug 11, 2006 10:42 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:For drinkers of Scotch: How important is an appreciation of Scottish culture, history, or geography to you in appreciating whisky? ... I hope you'll share your feelings about the matter.
Bruce: As I grew up being aware of my Scots heritage, it had little or no effect on my interest in Whisky. I learned to appreciate whisky from trial and error and an awakening interest, after the fact, of how whisky is distilled and matured.

Don't get me wrong, I have a strong appreciation of Scotland, it's heritage and history. Like many decendants of the Scots, my ancestors fought at Culloden and I maintain Glencoe was a travesty of justice. I appreciate all the aspects of Scotland but whisky has been and continues to be something special to be enjoyed and celebrated, separate and apart from appreciation of my heritage. I agree with Aidan's sentiments:
Aidan wrote:If a distillery from a particularly historical and geographically beautiful place made crap whisky, I wouldn't drink it.

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Postby jimidrammer » Sat Aug 12, 2006 6:56 pm

Being born with red hair and freckles and finding myself drawn to all things Gaelic, I still didn't really make too much of the connection until I was older. Now it all makes sense, the play Briggadoon I saw as a teen as a school field trip, my love of Celtic music, and movies about Scotland (Braveheart, Rob Roy, Highlander) was bound to lead me to Scotch, it just took awhile to get here. Now, I want to explore every aspect of Scottish/Irish culture. And hope to travel there soon.
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Postby Aidan » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:06 pm

jimidrammer wrote:Being born with red hair and freckles and finding myself drawn to all things Gaelic, I still didn't really make too much of the connection until I was older. Now it all makes sense, the play Briggadoon I saw as a teen as a school field trip, my love of Celtic music, and movies about Scotland (Braveheart, Rob Roy, Highlander) was bound to lead me to Scotch, it just took awhile to get here. Now, I want to explore every aspect of Scottish/Irish culture. And hope to travel there soon.


Jimi - you should get here quick before it's all gone... The culture, that is, not the whisky.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:15 pm

Aidan wrote:I'm sure Scottish culture is interesting, but it doesn't have anything to do with my apreciation of scotish whisky. If a distillery from a particularly historical and geographically beautiful place made crap whisky, I wouldn't drink it.


Nor would I, of course. But I might very well be interested in the distillery's history, even if I didn't like the product. In fact, I try to make a point of visiting distilleries whose product I'm not much fond of--it's every bit as educational as touring your favorite, and occasionally it's an eye-opener, as well.

For me, appreciation of whisky does not mean only the taste, although that is of course the first and foremost consideration. Time and again we hear how important the people are in the industry, and people do not live in a vacuum.

Not to say you're wrong, Aidan. I asked for opinions, expected a variety, and so far we have the full range!
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Postby Frodo » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:26 pm

Part of my considering the Bruichladdich School is to visit Islay as I've heard that people on the Island have their own concepts of things like not buying into the rat race and judging others on deeds not words. Don't have much of an interest in travelling to other parts of Scotland at this time.
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Postby Aidan » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:29 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:
Aidan wrote:I'm sure Scottish culture is interesting, but it doesn't have anything to do with my apreciation of scotish whisky. If a distillery from a particularly historical and geographically beautiful place made crap whisky, I wouldn't drink it.


Nor would I, of course. But I might very well be interested in the distillery's history, even if I didn't like the product. In fact, I try to make a point of visiting distilleries whose product I'm not much fond of--it's every bit as educational as touring your favorite, and occasionally it's an eye-opener, as well.

For me, appreciation of whisky does not mean only the taste, although that is of course the first and foremost consideration. Time and again we hear how important the people are in the industry, and people do not live in a vacuum.

Not to say you're wrong, Aidan. I asked for opinions, expected a variety, and so far we have the full range!


I've actually been rethinking my first post on this. Now that I think of it, I was kind of intrigued by whisky before I really got into it, so there probably is a link. I always had a whisk(e)y now and then, but I got much more into it after visiting the whisky heritage centre in Edinburgh. I could have been interested in it without liking the product, either, though.

I suppose it was the hook in the begining.

I do think people play a great role in the industry (that goes without saying), but I also think the whole thing is romanticised beyond recognition. And this is not a bad thing, of course. I bet there are scores of people who work in distilleries who aren't characters at all.
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Postby Aidan » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:30 pm

Frodo wrote:Part of my considering the Bruichladdich School is to visit Islay as I've heard that people on the Island have their own concepts of things like not buying into the rat race and judging others on deeds not words. Don't have much of an interest in travelling to other parts of Scotland at this time.


Scotland is a wonderful place, Frodo. If you visited mainland scotland, I think you'd love it.

Islanders are always different to mainlanders, in my experience, though.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:44 pm

A good point about romanticization. We have seen mentioned here many times such films as Local Hero, Whisky Galore, Brigadoon, Braveheart, Highlander, etc. It was Local Hero that first made me want to visit Scotland. Even then, I knew I was buying a romanticized vision of the country that I would never actually see, because it didn't really exist. And yet, there is at least a kernel of truth in most such visions, and I have had many Local Hero moments over the years--an encounter with locals in a shop in Sanday, the tourist information clerk in Stromness who doubled as a bartender at the Stromness Hotel, fighter jets screaming overhead as I walked a remote beach. It would be greatly overstating things to say that I find all these things in a dram, but for me, they are all threads interwoven in a fabulous tweed. And just as in a tweed or a tartan, the sum of these things is more meaningful to me than the individual threads.
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Postby Aidan » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:53 pm

Yeah, there are lots of moments. I remember meeting a old guy on Islay who spoke to us in Irish, being a native Scots Gaelic speaker. I was very impressed. I think he was from Islay. Anyway, he was wearing a baseball cap with the Australian flag on the front, but he had picked the Union Jack stitching off the corner of the flag...
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Postby bamber » Sun Aug 13, 2006 5:13 am

I liked the drink so became interested in where it came from.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:45 am

I suppose for me it has always meant being Irish (as opposed to scotch but same inference). Yes whiskey is interlaced into the culture but I can't catagorically say that it is the reason I drink whiskey but then again I cannot deny this either.

Marriage, Births and Deaths have always had whiskey associated to them. Also it was always something every house in Ireland had, a bottle whether or not the occupants drank it or not. You'd never know who might drop by ... the next door neighbour or the bishop both were offered a drop equally. It was a very intergral part of our culture and was ingrained in our social interactions whether happy or sad but for me it is because of my grandfather the old mad sitting at the bar with half of Guinness and a drop of the cratur that stired my desire to be a whiskey drinker so maybe that is a piece of Irish Culture too. I was in awe of the man and respected him and intrigued by the fire water he drank.
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Postby Bullie » Mon Aug 14, 2006 12:54 pm

This poll was the easiest to answer so far, for me anyway. It's more than hand in glove. For me it's synonymous. Mention Whisky and I'll think about Scotland - mention Scotland and I'll think whisky... I love Scotland, the people, the history, well.. everything about Scotland.

It was a Scottish friend who introduced me to single malts, and from that point in life, my interest in whisky have developed quite far. Nowadays, my biggest interest in whisky is in the history about it. And reading about whisky history is quite impossible without learning the rest of the history of Alba. From the picts up until today there is a fantastic and interesting story. And I've found out that I can appriciate a whisky even more when I know the history behind it. And knowing the gaelic names takes it even one more step.

I've been drinking bourbons, japanese whisky and so on, but never bought a bottle. Why? Even though a lot of them taste wonderful, they're not scottish... :roll:
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Tue Aug 15, 2006 3:29 am

I've always thought of Scotland as somewhat dark and grey in the sense of being a bit sad and grave - or as a total opposite of my interest in history and art history of southern Europe which typically appears as lighter and with a certain latin flair. What a gross misunderstanding and cultural stereotype! I changed my mind after being presented to Ardbeg. If someone can produce something so characterful surely there must be something else worth discovering? And there was of course; the medieval history of both Scotland and Norway closely intertwined. A Scotland where the norwegian king Haakon Haakonson ruled over the Hebrides, Orkneys, Shetland and the western coast of Scotland and then did the incredibly stupid act of dying in Orkney in 1263.
Movies and tv series like Local Hero and Hamish Macbeth, the music by severals including Jackie Leven, and Ian Rankin's books with Inspector Rebus all inform you of something at least slightly "scottish" - or maybe interpretations of something remotely scottish. I know I cannot possibly claim to understand what it means to be scottish or what culturally constitutes it but nevertheless it interests me. I think reading history, online newspapers, books containing a little social criticism, watching movies and tv series makes you grasp at least a little bit of the humour, folklore, language etc.

I'd love to go to Scotland later on (and Ireland too) .

Oh, and I love whisky!

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Postby rthomson » Tue Aug 15, 2006 7:33 pm

My father and his family moved to the U.S. from Scotland shortly after WWII. My grandparents moved back in the early 1980's. I grew up with pictures and stories of the old country all around me. I don't think I would have developed an interest in scotch whisky without that. For me, they go together.

Cheers,
Ron
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