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Issue 30 - Muscial Spirits

Whisky Magazine Issue 30
April 2003


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Muscial Spirits

Martine Nouet profiles two talented singer/songwriters in the world of whisky: Robin Laing and Norma Munro

Robin Laing's first encounter with whisky came well before his idea of capturing its poetic essence on a CD. As a student, he spent a summer in the ‘70s as a barman in the Arisaig Hotel on Scotland's west coast. The conscientious young Robin carried out research by sampling the whole stock of single malts.

The Edinburgh-born singer did not become a full-time musician until 1996, when he gave up a well-paid position to fully enjoy his art. Funnily enough, this is also when he came closer to whisky, becoming a member of the tasting panel at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh. I was invited last summer to a tasting session chaired by Robin. He regaled us with witty, lyrical and yet pertinent descriptions.

Robin Laing has created a one-man show on the subject of Scotch whisky, entitled The Angel's Share. It is also the title of his CD dedicated to uisge beatha. Robert Burns features of course, but Robin has also set modern poems to music, as well as writing songs himself. More than just a dram, written on the Isle of Eigg, is a vibrant tribute to the mountain dew. In the introduction to The Whisky Muse, a collection of whisky poetry and song (see over page), he says:

OK, I might be a whisky geek, but the truth is, what fascinates me most is not the smell, or the taste, or even the feeling of floating euphoria that follows a couple of drams. It is the culture – the songs, the poems and stories that surround our national drink – a world of imagination and creativ...

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