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Issue 88 - In a Northern glass

Whisky Magazine Issue 88
June 2010


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In a Northern glass

Tom Morton, BBC broadcaster and writer gives us his view of the whisky world from the Shetland archipelago.

It sits, half-empty (or half full, depending on one's point of view), in one of the kitchen cupboards, ready for visitors judged unworthy of anything better, any sore muscles in need of embrocation, the disinfection of wounds and the cleaning of surgical implements. It is a litre bottle of Zetland North Sea whisky, for the moment, and probably for a long time to come, Shetland's only semi-native dram. Courtesy of a distillery and blending operation near Loch Lomond, and a backstreet Lerwick shop called Brucefield Stores. It is very possibly the worst blended whisky in the world. Though having said that, it is quite effective for emergency toothpolishing, if hazardous to cheap brushes.

Brucefield Stores sells litres of Zetland for around the £12 mark, but most bottles go, via the shop's associate company, G & B Anderson, dutyfree to visiting Scandinavian yachtsmen, foreign fishermen and other seafaring folk. For the princely sum of £3.50. Yes, for a single pub measure price you can have a litre of thrapplescouring whisky, as long as you're just passing through. Like the whisky. Similarly priced Zetland brandy, and vodka is also available.

Few islanders buy the stuff, it should be said, though Brucefield is a haven for folk seeking out certain obscure British sherries. This is a wealthy archipelago, on the whole, thanks to 30 years of oil, and a relatively buoyant economy survives (despite recent setbacks) based on fishing, fish farming and in the future, renewable energy a...

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