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Issue 85 - Gone to pot

Whisky Magazine Issue 85
January 2010


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Gone to pot

With Dave taking a break for this issue, we asked the BBC's Tom Morton to step up to the plate. He brings us the tale Lomond, Lobotomies and Captain Haddock.

Fans of the cartoon Belgian boy detective Tin Tin will of course know that his gargantuan sidekick, the piratical Captain Haddock, likes a dram. His whisky of choice is ‘Loch Lomond', a name presumably chosen by artist and writer Herge because the name sums up Scotland. Bonnie banks, bonnie braes, snowcapped peaks, drunken jet ski hooligans, enormous piles of rubbish on the shoreline left by Glasgow Fair revellers – that kind of thing.

Loch Lomond, though, is a real distillery, a bluntly industrial complex at the foot of the loch, set amid the less-than-scenic clutter of Alexandria. It is currently hitting the headlines.

Even the Sabbath solidity of The Observer reports, breathlessly, that “an environmentally friendly distillery...may be forced to cut jobs and abandon efforts to reduce energy use because of new rules defining how traditional malt whisky is made.” Wait a minute! This wouldn't be to do with the Scotch Whisky Association's new set of definitions, would it? We've been through the ‘pure malt' and ‘vatted malt' wars. The term ‘Blended malt' has, albeit reluctantly, begun stumbling from the numbed lips of even the most dyed-in-the-butt industry traditionalists. But what's upsetting the Loch Lomonders is in fact something much more central, the nature of whisky itself.

What is ‘Scotch malt whisky'? What is ‘single malt'? How is it – how must it – be made?

For the SWA, it's straightforward. Leaving aside all the usual stuff about oak ageing, ...

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