Whisky Magazine Issue 132
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The appliance of science at Mount Vernon
In 1982, She Blinded Me With Science by one-hit-wonder Thomas Dolby, spent a few weeks at number five on the American Billboard charts. It's a hook-laden tune, complete with giddy electronic 80s sound effects and a baseline provided by a Moog synthesizer. In the video, a mad scientist type appears and, with gesticulations that evoke a feral animal, shouts ‘Science!' This deranged professor is Magnus Pyke, a TV personality and British government scientist known for making science comprehensible to average folks. And he's just a few degrees removed from the Scotch industry, as he worked in yeast research at the Distillers Company from 1949 to 1955, a facility where Dr. Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling for the Glenmorangie Company and Andy Cant, Distillery Manager for Cardhu, (which is billed ‘The heart of Johnny Walker') later held jobs. Okay, it's a stretch, but go with me on this for now.
That realisation was made three years ago at the historic Mount Vernon, the estate to which George Washington retired after his presidency and started a distillery. It happened during a late-night discussion among several Scotch industry luminaries. Come to think of it, ‘discussion' might be a bit misleading, as it implies a formality. And there was none of that at the confab that happened at the tail end of a day of pomp and ceremony. There had been a press conference to announce that Scottish and American whisky-makers were collaborating to produce a Scotch style single malt o...