Saturday the 16th of May marks World Whisky Day, a call for celebration across the world to celebrate this fabulous and much-adored spirit. With the number of distilleries producing whisky continuing to rise, there’s an ever-growing catalogue of whiskies to whet your palate. Among this extensive catalogue, perhaps what is most remarkable is the original identity of each brand, which becomes apparent as soon as the precious liquid touches your lips. However, during such a celebration, it’s important to pay homage to those that have been making whisky for years – and where better to start than Scotland?
Growing up in Scotland, I’ve always been aware of the fantastic reputation Scotch whisky has, which is no doubt a result of years spent perfecting the art. From the thick forests and deep valleys of Speyside, to the rugged shores of the Orkney islands, whisky making has been ingrained in Scottish culture for centuries.
After quickly gaining a passion for Scotch whisky it drove me to pursue a career in the Scotch whisky industry, whereby I started as a tasting host at the Scotch Whisky Experience, a popular tourist attraction in the heart of Edinburgh. The attraction itself really homes in on the 5-malt whisky making regions of Scotland – Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown – and the style of whisky that each region is renowned for. It was here that I learnt so much about Scotch Whisky – but what amazed me more was the breadth of tourists that visited us, eager to learn more about our treasured national drink and the history behind it. With the first written reference to Scotch Whisky dating back to 1494, guests often found themselves wondering where to begin. Personally, I feel that the 19th century is a good place to start, as it was a pivotal time for the Scotch Whisky industry.
In 1822 King George IV visited Scotland and asked to try a drop of whisky from the infamous Glenlivet valley – although infamous for its illicit whisky distilling, it was no secret that the king enjoyed it. The following year the excise act was passed, allowing distillers to legally produce whisky, provided they had a licence. The founder of The Glenlivet George Smith acquired a license for his distillery in 1824, which made him the first licensed distiller in the parish of Glenlivet. His decision to legitimize his work was met with anger from competitors who continued to distill illegally, but that didn’t stop George from creating the whisky often accredited with inspiring Scotland’s foremost whisky region and the development of single malt whisky.
There’s no denying that Scotch whisky has a rich history, but today we raise a toast to the man who was a pioneer, visionary, an original thinker – George Smith. He saw the world was changing and when opportunity knocked, he innovated, moved forward and made a mark on history. He created a single malt which is synonymous with quality and elegance – so great that many competitors tried to steal the name for their own. There is however only one single malt with the indisputable right to be called ‘The Glenlivet’.
This World Whisky Day, let’s raise our glasses is in celebration of the world’s most adored spirit – and what better way to do it than raising a toast to the original single malt. I know I will be!
— Jordan Edwards is brand ambassador for the Scotch whisky portfolio of Pernod Ricard India