Above: The Meeting of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott at Sciennes Hill House, Charles Martin Hardie (1858–1916)
(click for more whisky and drinking folklore and background information)
The brew is first recorded in 1475 during the campaign of the Earl of Atholl to capture Iain MacDonald, Lord of the Isles who was leading a rebellion against the king. Hearing that MacDonald drank from a small well, the Earl ordered it to be filled with honey, whisky and oatmeal. Allegedly, MacDonald stayed sampling the delicious concoction and was captured!
Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'
A favorite celebratory beverage, punch appears everywhere in Dickens' novels whenever a drop of good cheer is called for, most famously at the Cratchit's Christmas dinner in "A Christmas Carol." Ten years after its publication, Charles Dickens began to give public performances of his work. On performance days Dickens stuck to a rather bizarre, punch-related routine. He had two tablespoons of rum flavoured with fresh cream for breakfast, a pint of champagne for tea, and half an hour before the start of his performance, would drink a raw egg beaten into a tumbler of sherry. Dickens' favorite hot gin punch contained Hendrick's gin, Madeira, dark brown sugar, lemon peel, orange peel, 1 pineapple, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg!
Red Wine & Straight Lines
Are you a connoisseur of the grape? An oenophile? A Merlot fan!? All of the most common red wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Pinot Noir are descended from just one species of grape: Vitis vinifera, which originated in Eastern Europe. In fact, the oldest-known winery was discovered in a cave in Vayots Dzor, Armenia, and contained a wine press, fermentation vats, jars, and cups dating to c. 4100 BC! The parentage of the Merlot grape has been the subject of much research. One wine parent has been determined to be that of a Cabernet Franc and a half-sibling of Carménère, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. The identity of the second parent of Merlot has been recently identified by DNA analysis, from vines growing in an abandoned vineyard in Saint-Suliac in Brittany, as the mother of Merlot! Cheers! 🍷🍇
Bailey's Irish Cream
St. Patrick's Season
Irish Coffee (coffee, cream, sugar, and spirits) became popular in the 19th century coffee houses. Today, Bailey's Irish Cream, introduced in 1974, can provide you with all of these components (with the addition of chocolate, vanilla, and burnt sugar)! Interestingly, the term ‘Scotch Coffee’ historically has nothing to do with either whisky or coffee! Scotch Coffee was drunk in times of hardship when supplies of coffee had run out. It consisted of hot water, milk, sugar and a handful of burnt breadcrumbs. This hardscrabble concoction was “popular” from the time coffee was first introduced into the UK, the name derived from the alleged tight-fistedness of the Scots. Who knew? Sláinte! ☘️ 🇮🇪 ☕
World Whisky Day
Originally known as Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky, the Johnnie Walker brand is a legacy left by John "Johnnie" Walker after he started to sell whisky in his grocer's shop in Ayrshire, Scotland. The brand became popular, but after Walker's death in 1857 it was his son Alexander Walker and grandson Alexander Walker II who were largely responsible for establishing the whisky as the most the most widely distributed brand of blended Scotch whisky in the world. Science fiction fans will have noticed that in two scenes of Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner (1982), Harrison Ford drinks Johnnie Walker Black Label after it is poured from a futuristic Art Deco bottle. Sláinte! 🥃
The Whisky Punch
Much loved in the American colonies, where access to eggs and dairy (and liquor) was easily available, eggnog (derived from an egg-less concoction from the 14th century, known as posset “a drink made of hot milk curdled with ale, wine, or the like, often sweetened and spiced") is a popular holiday beverage made with eggs, spices, milk or cream, and various quantities of rum, whisky, sherry, brandy and bourbon. Eggnog has the added distinction of being responsible for the Eggnog Riot of 1826, also called the Grog Mutiny, which took place on this day at the United States Military Academy in West Point, resulting in the court-martialing of many cadets of future eminence. Cheers!
According to the liqueur legend, Glayva was first produced in 1947 by wine and whisky merchant Ronald Morrison who wanted to create a liqueur that would warm and comfort. Upon tasting the liquid for the first time, Hector, the warehouseman declared that it was ‘Gle Mhath” Gaelic for "very good." From that point on the liqueur was named Glayva.
Passing the Porter
A pint of plain, anyone? If your customary choice is a stout, a dark strong beer, you might as easily use the term "porter" now or in the past- porters have been marketed under such names as "Extra Porter", "Double Porter", and "Stout Porter." Dating back to 19th-century London, this drink was popularized by dock workers (“river porters”) as their post-shift beer of choice! The expression "mind your p's and q's" is thought to stem from 17th century taverns and pubs where people drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A barmaid’s job was to keep an eye on the customers, keep the drinks coming, and pay close attention when pouring out “pints” and “quarts.” 🍺
the Whisky Wreck Incident, 1941
Inspired by the real events of 1941, when a cargo ship ran aground in the channel between Eriskay and South Uist, Compton Mackenzie's Whisky Galore is the story of how the booty on board became appropriated by a group of Scottish islanders under "the rule of salvage." The SS Politician was carrying all manner of trade goods, from cotton to medicines to biscuits, but the ship is best remembered for the contents of Hold Number 5: some 264,000 bottles of Scotch whisky! The novel formed the basis for the 1949 Ealing comedy of the same name, Whisky Galore! directed by Alexander Mackendrick, featuring a ceilidh with a Half Reel & Tulloch and and Scottish Country Dance Eightsome Reel! This movie was recently remade in 2016, sadly without any dancing. Slàinte! 🥃