By Charles MacLean

From the Editor

As they tell you at every bus stop in Scotland come late afternoon at this time of year, “the nights are fair drawing in”. For some of us this is a legitimate excuse for pouring our evening drams earlier than usual, following the example of Sir Winston Churchill, who used to eschew
tea in favour of Johnnie Walker Black Label.This is the season when whisk(e)y comes into its own. The marketing people will stress its golden, warming, convivial characteristics; while the sales people reduce the prices on bottles. This is because whisky producers have been lured into an annual price war by the multiples which, although is good news for us, the consumers, is disastrous for the industry generally. What other business cuts the price of its product during its most productive season? Already Glenmorangie and The Glenlivet have entered the lists, with bottles of their malts available for not much more than the price of a premium blend. Others are knocking off £10 with a two-bottle purchase. It’s a great time to be a buyer or collector, but not so good if you’re a shareholder or an employee. The trickle of special millennial bottlings which have been coming into the shops since the summer has become a torrent. Many of them are limited editions (and therefore collectable) or carefully selected grog (and therefore drinkable). Our expert noses, In this issue Messrs Jackson and Murray provide an invaluable assessment of what is on offer. Of equal interest is the millennium survey of favourite whiskies – comparing those malts you are unfamiliar with against your own favourites. Fascinating.Inevitably, many of the bottles sold this time of the year will be as presents: so on pages 52 and 53 we have assembled a range of unusual non-alcoholic items which we reckon will appeal to whisk(e)y lovers, while I review some whisky-related books which should make useful stocking fillers. Too late for review, but absolutely invaluable is the fourth edition of Michael Jackson’s Malt Whisky Companion – completely up-dated and the best and most thorough guide to what is available.
We have also chosen to profile two diverse distilleries producing whiskies which have real richness and depth. They are Dalmore on the Cromarty Firth and Labrot & Graham in central Kentucky. Our historical whisky hero is Tommy Dewar who established Dewar’s White Label, while our contemporary brave man is David Broom who recounts his experience living as a whisky smuggler. Finally, dip into this issue with glass in hand and raise a toast in celebration of our first anniversary. We, in turn, raise our glasses to you in thanks for your continuing support. Slainte mhor!