By Rob Allanson

In search of a cure

Science steps in to offer ways to avoid a hangover – allegedly
I have been thinking a lot about whisky and how we consume it, and how it fits into society and our friendship circles. This was brought home during a recent trip to Speyside for the festival.

How those moments of cooking together and drinking together are a vital and valuable part of life. If we have the chance to do this we can reset and that’s what friends are for.
Sometimes there is as much joy in listening to a good whisky being opened, the pop of the cork, the glug of the liquid and the clink of glasses. I equate this to reading the opening words, ‘In a galaxy far, far away…’ and John Williams soaring fanfare. Yes it can be that good in the right situation. Perhaps a 52-years-old drop of something incredibly special, on a stony beach next to the Spey, under the Craigallechie Bridge. If you were lucky enough to be at the Craigallechie tasting with Georgie Bell during the festival you’ll know what I mean.

However more on this later, I wanted to digress into something that I have seen more and more of, both in mainstream media and actually at some whisky shows.
This is the seeming cure-all for the hangover. It sounds like the alchemists of old trying to create gold from tin. Pills or potions allowing you to go and enjoy yourself without repercussions – I am afraid that it doesn’t work that way and we all know it.

Honestly, the person who truly perfects this will walk among us as a god, and probably a rich one at that. But given drinkers centuries over have searched for this and haven’t found it, I doubt that even our advancing knowledge will get there.

Just a quick look at what has come before tells you that it’s not meant to be; from the Prairie Oyster to the Hair of the Dog; the only true cure for the hangover is self discipline and not drinking; I would accept a fry up, of course, but that’s not too effective.

Also I wonder about the message some of these modern cures are sending.

I would accept a fry up, of course, but that's not too effective


One I have seen it appears you take a pill before you go drinking, a pill while drinking and one before bed and bingo, no hangover. Surely this (if it works which I am doubtful about) is a licence to over-consume.

It’s the same with the potion advertised recently on the TV. Drink it the morning after and again, no hangover. No good can come of this. The hangover is the body’s way of letting you know you overdid it and need to recover. Also, it’s a reminder that alcohol should be treated with deference and a little respect.

This takes me back to Speyside. I had written a few issues ago about drinking less but better, and that sometimes the propensity to follow a path that leads to no good is a possibility.

Chatting with friends I was reminded of what whisky can and should be. The power for good it has. This is as a social-enabler, a bringer-together, a marker of milestones and occasions. It is there, depending on your family, at birth and at death, marking important moments in between.

Drinking with good friends, and sharing some gorgeous whiskies, are the moments you don’t want to forget; the setting the world to rights evenings, where whisky is just part of the conversation not the ruler. This is when whisky for me is at it’s best, when it knits bonds together. I hope there are many more of these to come, and also I do hope you have to joy of experiencing them too.

Elsewhere the seasons keep turning. Here in the northern hemisphere Summer is trying to make a start after a very wet, and frequently cold and dismal Spring. The barley I have been talking about is starting to grow, and of course so are the weeds. I have bold plans for this if all goes to plan, but we are still a long way from this.

Unbelievably I am still running. In fact my daughter has started to join me sometimes, and recently she decided she wanted to raise a little money by entering a fun run. Not two words I would have considered went together before. Realising I could not really let her run on her own, I joined her. Two and a half miles of chatting and laughing and we got a medal – yes I wanted one. It was a great moment to share. As for the time, well that doesn’t really matter does it…