The Meaning Behind the Name?
It has struck me on many occasions that many bottlings that I have purchased or read about have names whose meaning remains mysterious to me. Recently, I felt compelled to scratch the surface and was rewarded greatly...
Over the past couple of days, I have been rationing a 5ml sample of the Blackadder Old Man of Hoy, 14 yo 64% abv that was sent to me by our one and only, Mr. TH. My curiosity with this dram and its namesake lead me to the following bit of information that I have found fascinating which I feel compelled to share.
The meaning behind the name....
The Old Man of Hoy is a dramatic pinkish sandstone seastack situated on the west coast of the island of Hoy, in the Orkney Islands. At one time the seastack had two legs, but in the early 19th Century, one of the legs was washed away in an Atlantic storm. The Old Man of Hoy is the tallest standing seastack in the UK that reaches to an impressive height of 450 feet (137m) that rises out of the Atlantic Ocean.
Orcadian poet, Malcolm wrote about Old Man Hoy:
Based in the sea, his fearful form
Glooms like the spirit of the storm;
An ocean Babal, rent and worn
By time and tide - all wide and lorn;
A giant that had warred with Heaven,
Whose ruin scalp seems thunder-driven
What I have found particularly exciting about the Old Man of Hoy is that today, July 8th, marks the 40th year Anniversary of the 1967 live BBC televised outside broadcast of first and second climbing ascents. At the time, the pioneering style of the black & white live broadcast offered the armchair thrill seeker to vicariously glimpse into the private, exclusive and highly adventurous world of the British Climbing elite. In 1966, the first ascent of the seastack was climbed by Chris Bonington, Rusty Baillie and Tom Patey. The following year, on July 8-9th, it was repeated before an estimated 15 million viewers over the 3 day filming event which began on the 7th. The three pair of climbers that took part in the filming were Chris Bonington and Tom Patey who repeated their original route on the east-face, while two new routes were established by Joe Brown and Ian McNaught-Davis on the south-face and Pete Crew and Dougal Haston who climbed the south-east arête. Other seasoned climbers like Hamish MacInnes and John Cleare lent their skills via "climbing cameramen" and transmitter carriers were Rusty Baillie and Ian Clough.
In the report that I read, the climbers, when away from the watchful eye of the camera, bivouaced in comfort that included a bottle of whisky (bottling unknown) and foam mattresses. The televised climb was a grand success and had attracted, at that time, the most media attention through major national newspaper coverage.
The name of this particular bottling reveals a treasure trove of geography, sport, poetry and local history. And, of course, the all important journey on the infinite whisky trail.
In the JM Whisky Bible 2007, Jim reviews a few bottlings, but none are the CS 14 yo 64% abv bottling. For me, the CS Orcadian bottling was quite a powerhouse. But, it also tasted one-dimensional. It didn't have the great characteristics of HP (IB or OB's) that I have come to associate with Highland Park. I am willing to give it another go...
On a personal note, I met climber Rusty Baillie in Calgary during the late '70's and early '80's. I was doing some climbing in the Rockies and he was part of that network of climbers that I was connected to. For the record, I doubt that he would remember me.
I would encourage others to add to this thread. I am sure most of you don't have to be as long-winded as I am, but even a translation of a Gaelic name would be most appreciated.
P.S. The bulk of the information in my posting is extracted from an article in Sport in History - Vol. 27, No 1., March 2007, pp 44-63. Author: Mr. Paul Gilchrist, Reality TV on the Rock Face - Climbing the Old Man of Hoy