By Neil Ridley

The Apocalypse is Nigh…

Where has all the whisky gone?
Picture the scene: The crack of dawn on a chilly day in April. You wake up as normal, but something is strangely different. No familiar sounds outside. No one around, litter and detritus strewn down the pavement. Your neighbour's front doors have all been left wide open, as if they rushed out in a desperate hurry.

Then you hear it. The blood-curdling realisation that you thought would never occur in your lifetime - or indeed, your grandchildren's lifetime. From the TV, which has been left on in your neighbour's front room comes the voice of a well-spoken gentleman. It sounds familiar, but slightly shaken, cracking with emotion as the words pour out. You peer through your neighbour's window and recoil in horror at the sight in front of you.

The man on the TV is Charles MacLean. He is holding a one-man vigil at the side of a grave, somewhere in Scotland. The headstone simply reads: 'Whisky RIP. 1494-2016'

As you listen in, what becomes chillingly apparent is that due to over demand, increased popularity and worst of all, overzealous collecting, Scotch whisky has ceased to be.

Producers became so overstretched trying to meet supply, that eventually, like overworked farm animals, they finally keeled over, exhausted, gasping their final breath. Distillery groups crumbled. Looting and riots broke out: first outside the distillery shops, then The Whisky Exchange in London and then finally anywhere that had a few drops of aged liquid left on the premises. Angry mobs waving flaming torches set fire to the auction houses up and down the country, as terrified employees tried to gather as many bottles of Ardbeg, Macallan and Port Ellen as they could carry, before fleeing the desperate scene. Grown men in Scandinavia sank to their knees, clutching their last bottles of Laphroaig 10 Years Old, trying in vain to drain the final few remaining drops in to their parched mouths.

As you pull away from the TV screen in horror, you too sink to your knees, screaming, 'WWHHYY?!'

Then, suddenly you wake up again, sweating and hyperventilating. Wait… everything seems normal. You rush downstairs to your drinks cabinet and mercifully it is still well stocked. It was all a terrible dream. A terrifying apocalyptical dream. Phew!

There, as always, is the Daily Telegraph on your doormat with a headline which strikes you down with the swift, terrifying precision of one of the Lord Almighty's lightning bolts. It reads: 'DON'T PANIC, BUT WE MIGHT BE RUNNING OUT OF SCOTCH WHISKY'.

But it was all a dream, wasn't it?

Apparently not. According to CNN, the news source that originally reported recently on the impending demise of 'old and rare single malt' Scotch whisky, the bad dream could become a reality. 'The shortage… has already started, and it's only going to get worse,' prophesied one interviewee, his brow no doubt furrowed with deep feelings of concern.

'Oh My God,' I cried. 'What are we to do?' Then I read some more and laughed. A lot. As it happens, the article is largely focused on quotes from people either owning or administering 'Scotch Whisky Investment Funds'.

So let me get this straight. Essentially, those who clearly stand to financially gain the most from the drying up of elderly stocks of Scotch whisky have conveniently become the prophets of doom, foretelling of its demise. Well blow me down, what a huge surprise.

You can almost hear their maniacal sermon, playing on a loop, to feverish wide-eyed believers who are crawling all over each other in a bid to get their credit cards out first: 'Repent now! By joining our fund, you too can watch from the luxury helicopter, as the bus containing all the impoverished sods drives over the cliff, chasing the last bottle of affordable Balvenie…'

There is probably an element of truth in the various scaremongering stories that seemingly crop up every week. But fear and misinformation are very dangerous weapons in the hands of the determined, especially when there is a huge pay off at the end of it.

A certain Mr Trump springs to mind, but let's not go there.