There is bound to be many reasons why the idea of taking a relaxing,Sample the ‘Water of Life’ on a Scottish pappy van winkle 23 for sale Articles luxurious Scottish cruise along the breathtakingly beautiful Caledonian Canal might appeal – and some aficionados may have to admit that the opportunity to sample the famous whisky is one of them!
In Scottish Gaelic, whisky is called “uisge beatha” – phonetically, that’s “ooska-bar”. As the title of this piece suggests, in English it roughly translates to “Water of Life”.
Although it’s often assumed that whisky distillation in Scotland is an ancient craft, in fact, it seems to have first arrived not much earlier than around the 14th-15th century – and arguably from Italy via the monasteries. Of course, if you’d like to not keep in good with the locals on your Scottish cruise, it might be wise to hold off expounding the view that whisky was invented in Italy!
Of course, the drink’s true origins are now completely lost in time, but what is clear is that whisky (or more commonly spelt ‘whiskey’ in Ireland and the USA) quickly became associated with primarily Scotland and to some extent Ireland. In practice, it was also distilled in England, but that seems to have stopped during the period when production was prohibited and essentially driven underground.
The Modern Drink
While the purists can happily squabble over ancient history for hours, today it’s all about enjoyment. While on a Scottish cruise, you’ll pass by some of the great distilleries and, all told, the industry contributes about 4.25billion to the UK economy and supports around 35,000 jobs. In fact, about a quarter of all UK food and drink duty revenue comes from the distillation and sale of Scottish whisky.
When cruising the Great Glen and Caledonian Canal some of the distilleries you’ll pass include Ben Nevis, Tomatin and Oban. Some of these have histories going back centuries and all the whisky will have a very distinctive flavour and ‘nose’. Some distilleries have tours available, but do check in advance because their availability can vary from one season to another.
Whisky Drinking Tips
Of course, alcohol should only be enjoyed in moderation and that includes whisky.
Most whiskies you’ll taste locally on a Scottish cruise will be at 40% proof, although it is possible to find ‘cask strength’ variations that will be considerably stronger.
In spite of much rumour, generally Scottish people will take their whisky (it’s never ‘Scotch’ in Scotland) either neat or with a little water. There is no right or wrong way in that respect.
Whisky ‘on the rocks’ is rather more rare in Scotland, although some do prefer it that way and the distilleries and bars/pubs will gladly serve it to you like that if you wish.
Remember also that whisky improves with age in the cask but not in the bottle. Once bottled it is ‘fixed’ in terms of maturity. So if you’re looking at a special ‘old’ whisky, remember that the important thing is the date it was bottled and NOT the elapsed time from its bottling date.