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Issue 25 - A barrel of laughs

Whisky Magazine Issue 25
August 2002


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A barrel of laughs

Brian Hennigan chuckles his way through a rich supply of Scottish whisky humour

Anyone offered one of the many recent “rare but authentic (honest!)” bottlings that the industry has been throwing at us will know that a sense of humour is an important commodity in the whisky world. You know the type of thing; Glenwallet 12 Year Old – The Newspaper Boy's Selection, Matured in Fusty Milk Cartons – £85 plus VAT.

The only thing requiring a greater sense of humour is the idea that Scotland remains one of the most expensive places to buy Scotch in the known world.

Yet the successful combination of whisky and humour is a tradition that goes beyond “Duty Free Exclusives”. Since time immemorial, the lochs and glens of Scotland have reverberated to the sound of well-slapped thighs, as beefy Highlanders pay tribute to the jocular words of their dram-spilling chums.

Jocular itself is a Scottish word, shortened to Jock and then applied to anyone of Scottish origin. Employed by visiting tourists on the streets of Edinburgh, it is sure to endear them to the local populace. Prefix it with the friendly term “Hey” (as in “Hey Jock, do you have a copy of the Chicago Tribune?”) and you are sure to receive some of our legendary Caledonian hospitality.

Jocks play a central role in world humour, it being globally recognised that Scottish people are inherently amusing, particularly when running round an athletics track or playing football.

Not surprisingly, many Scottish jokes feature a character called Jock. This may occasionally be changed to Jimmy, ...

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