It is always instructive to place matters in their historial perspective, and this is as true for whisky as for other matters. The whisky trade has always been good at reinventing or forgetting its past. In this issue of Whisky Magazine we learn how Clan Campbell (the brand) has cleverly exploited its tenuous connection with Clan Campbell (the family) and become, in a startlingly short time, one of the leading blended whiskies in Europe. Having made the connection, both family and brand were delighted when the earliest known whisky artefact, a distiller’s worm, was discovered in the cellar of a Campbell castle. Concrete evidence. Malt whisky is now so fashionable that it is easy to imagine that ‘twas ever thus. We are reminded by Jack and Wallace Milroy that there were only four single malts generally available when they opened their famous shop in Soho in the mid-Sixties. The whisky companies, whose fortunes were founded on blended whisky, were simply not interested in making single malts available to a wider public. Interestingly, those malts which were available sold for 50/- (£2.50) a bottle; standard blends retailed at 45/- (£2.25), which makes one wonder why there is such a price differential today.When Tom Bruce-Gardyne peers at Tobermory Distillery on the Isle of Mull through the glass of history, he discovers that the place was decommissioned between 1930 and 1972, then open for only four years, then worked only occasionally until Burn Stewart bought it in 1993. So where did all that Tobermory malt come from? The stuff in a green dump bottle that we saw all over the place during the late 1980s and ‘90s? It turns out to have been a vatted malt, and to add to the confusion, its owners also bottled a blend under the same name.Cocktails are equally surrounded by mythology – a history ‘littered with so many claims and counter-claims that it’s difficult to trust any of it’, as Jonathan Goodall writes – although it’s interesting to discover that the first guide to mixing drinks was published as early as 1860. Finally, a big thank-you to Margaret Rand, who has edited Whisky Magazine since its launch but whose last issue this is. We look forward to welcoming her as a contributor in the future.
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Published in print 8 times each year, Whisky Magazine is the perfect drinking companion for all who enjoy the water of life.
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