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Issue 54 - Rob Roy

Whisky Magazine Issue 54
March 2006


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Rob Roy

Ian Wisniewski on the nearest thing Scotland has to a national cocktail

Scotch whisky may be the national spirit of Scotland, though this doesn't mean it provides a national cocktail, in the way that a mojito is an automatic choice for Cubans, or a dry martini is a favourite with Americans. But then that's hardly surprising as Scotch has a limited cocktail tradition, with mixability often simply a case of adding water.

In fact, the restricted choice of Scotch whisky cocktails ensures that any contenders have an automatic distinction. And if the name of the cocktail has any deeper associations, such as a familiar Scottish figure by the name of Rob Roy, then it can also assume a greater significance.

Rob Roy was the nickname of Robert McGregor (1671-1734), who subsequently assumed the name of Campbell in 1716. But then there's also a fourth option, as another name for him was Robert the Red, which reflected the colour of his hair.

Although immortalised by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) in the eponymous novel, Rob Roy doesn't initially seem like hero material. Being described as “rather beneath the middle size than above it,” isn't a great start.

And even though Scott gives him broad shoulders, which are a pre-requisite of every hero, they only serve to make him look out of proportion rather than statuesque. Similarly, the advantages of having toned, pumped-up arms are immediately negated by their excessive length.

Meanwhile, the origins of the Rob Roy are thought to be New York rather than Scotland, having been created by a bartender at The ...

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