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Issue 80 - Taking a tasting bee

Whisky Magazine Issue 80
June 2009


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Taking a tasting bee

Dave discusses language,tasting honey and the art of bee keeping.

Language? Tricky stuff. Meanings can easily slip – or only be found peeking out between lines. Sticky stuff as well. On the Ben Rinnes toposcope walk (see News p6) I fall into a honeyed conversation with a whiskyloving beekeeper who works on the oilrigs. Yes, I was initially confused as well… How do bees survive on an oil-rig and what on earth would the honey taste like? Don't worry, they're in Speyside when he goes to the rigs. The good news, at a time when the bee population is being decimated, is that his hives are very healthy. In fact, much of the chat seemed to revolve around him finding swarms all over the place, which apparently you can simply pick up and pop into a hive. I'm pretty sure there's more to it than that, probably involving a hat and gloves. Apparently a gun comes in handy as well which seems a tad extreme, unless it only fires very small bullets.

He clears up this minor confusion by explaining that he only used his gun once, to shoot a branch off a tree on which a swarm had settled. No Bees Were Harmed. I wondered if it wouldn't have been easier to roll in a peat bog and attach himself to a blue balloon, but then remembered it didn't work for Pooh.

It's a fascinating conversation. One of those where an enthusiastic expert takes you into his world, teaching you, for example, about the differences between the early and the late honey.

“I pick up honey in so many whiskies,” he says, taking a sip of Aberlour. “Of course you do,” I say. “ You'...

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