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Issue 82 - On the home front

Whisky Magazine Issue 82
September 2009

 

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On the home front

Dave looks at the recent goings on in the industry and Scotland.

I Unicorn,” he declaims. That's a phrase you don't hear often, but there again one doesn't often stumble across the creation of Finlaggan Pursuivant. If you said you did, you'd be lying because the last time it took place was 400 year ago. As Unicorn reads a long citation, a tabard, resplendent with rising phoenix, is placed over Finlaggan's head. We applaud.

Afterwards I speak to “Unicorn”, wondering how they knew the intricacies of a long-dead ceremony. “Oh we made it up, but don't you agree that tradition's vitally important?” All this flummery is taking place at The Gathering, the centrepiece of this year's Homecoming celebrations in which the Scottish Diaspora has been encouraged to... come home.

47,000 people do just that over the two days, most clad in plaid, celebrating their roots; listening to pipe bands, watching men throw telegraph poles around, buying sporrans made from ducks, seeking out ancestors, drinking whisky and marching in procession up the Royal Mile. It's a classy event that fills even the most cynical heart with a feeling that being Scottish matters, though it leaves as many questions unanswered: questions of relevancy, of what Scotland means in the 21st century, of home itself.

At the same time as Unicorn is speaking, 60 or so miles to the west in Kilmarnock another group of 20,000 people are also marching, this time to complain of the closure of the Johnnie Walker plant. Two weeks later, Whyte & Mackay announces it's laying off 100 (and ...

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