'Whisky has suffused the ethos of Scotland to a degree unequalled by any liquor in any other culture'
(Derek Cooper, 1983)
Land of their birth
There are few products which are so closely related to the land of their birth than Scotch malt whisky.
It is made from only the most elemental Scottish ingredients - water and barley (often malted with a dash of peat).
Successful maturation relies to a large extent on our cool, maritime northern climate.
It cannot be made elsewhere, for reasons which have defied even German and Japanese scientists - both of whom have tried to replicate ingredients and processes in their own countries. Recently a Welsh whisky was launched. It is good, just as Irish whiskey is good, but it is not Scotch.
But there is more than this. Whisky is the lifeblood of Scotland: historically, socially and economically.
'Whisky and freedom gang thegither' wrote Robert Burns. Scottish history is much to do with 'freedom' - independence from England and centralised authority; independence of mind (one of the reasons why the country has produced such a phenomenal number of inventors and 'Fathers of' so many sciences); independence of spirit.
It is the drink of welcome and of farewell, and much in between. Babies are ushered into the world, and guests to the house, with a dram. In the days when distances were travelled only with difficulty, a jug of whisky was left out for any tradesmen who might call. Business deals were sealed with a dram. All manner of small ailments are eased with whisky - from children's teething, to colds and flu.
Departing guests were offered a deoch an doruis, the 'dram at the door' - in modern terms 'one for the road'. The dead-departed are remembered and wished Godspeed with large quantities of whisky.
Scotch whisky is vital to the U.K. It is one of the top export earners, with exports over £2.2 billion. It is the backbone of the U.K. food and drinks industry, contributing some £1.8 billion to the trade balance. Without it the trade deficit in this sector would increase by 40%.