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Issue 28 - A universal language

Whisky Magazine Issue 28
January 2003

 

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A universal language

Dave Broom considers some unprecedented parallels between Scotland and Jamaica, and how drink is the key to exploring new cultures

The still bore the name Forsyth's. Rain was falling on the stillhouse roof. Business as usual. Well, not quite. The rain was warm; and the racket it was making on the corrugated iron roof was rendering any conversation impossible. The distiller and I smiled at each other and gestured. I pointed to the Forsyth's still and then the other three in the stillhouse, clad in thick white jackets and made a ‘why the hell would you do that?' expression. “Efficiency!” he yelled pointing to the doorway. “Let's talk there!” The rain was still falling with venomous intent. Around us were domed, thickly forested mountains, the lurid green fields seemed to glow. “Just what we need,” he said in disgust. “Half the cane is ruined already.” Not Scotland or Ireland, but Jamaica. Not whisk(e)y, but rum. Specifically Appleton Estate, a magical spot cradled in a high plateau ringed with hills, not far from a town called Maggotty. Here they make pot still rum, some of the best pot still rum in the world. It would have been sensible to stick to drinking Appleton for the rest of the time there. That or White Overproof with cranberry – one of the great drinks of the world. Not only does it taste wonderful, but it's one of those concoctions you know is dangerous, because you simply have to have one more. Next thing you know, you're on stage doing karaoke and trying to find the linguistic link between Jamaican patois and Glaswegian. This is how I ended up in a succession of increasi...

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