Who Said What About Scottish Whisky?


Scottish single-malt whisky bottles line a Highland pub


This swift and fiery spirit...belongs to the alchemist's den and to the long nights shot with cold, flickering beams; it is compact of Druid spells and Sabbaths (of the witches and the Calvinists); its graces are not shameless, Latin, and abundant, but have a sovereign austerity, whether the desert's or the north wind's; there are flavours in it, insinuating and remote, from mountain torrents and the scanty soil on moorland rocks and slanting, rare sun-shafts......Aeneas MacDonald


When the Lowlanders want to drink a cheer-upping cup, they go to the public house called the Change House, and call for a chopin of twopenny, which is a thin yeasty beverage made of malt, not quite so strong as the table-beer of England...the Highlanders, on the contrary, despise this liquor, and regale themselves with whisky, a malt spirit, as strong as geneva, which they swallow in great quantities, without any signs of inebriation: they are used to it from the cradle, and find it an excellent preservative against the winter cold, which must be extreme on these mountains--I am told that it is given with great success to infants, as a cordial, in the confluent smallpox, when the eruption seems to flag, and the symptoms grow unfavorable.
.....Tobias Smollet (1721-1771) Humphrey Clinker


A " dram" was the first article of hospitality presented to a stranger on entering a Highland hut. Not, however, till after the subjugation of the Highlands and the amalgamation of the two peoples, did whisky come to be regarded as a Lowland Scottish drink..
.....Old-world Scotland; Glimpses of its Modes and Manners ©Thomas Finlayson, 1844-1923



The whisky of this country is a most rascally liquor; and by consequence only drank by the most rascally part of the inhabitants.
.......Robert Burns, Letter to Mr John Tennant, 22 December 1788

May the beam in the glass never destroy the ray in the mind.
.....Anonymous

May the bloom of the face never extend to the nose.
.....Anonymous


Here's to good old Whisky
So Amber and so clear,
'Tis not so sweet as woman's lips,
But a d____d sight more sincere.
.....Anonymous

There are two things that a Highlander likes naked, and one is malt whisky
.....Anonymous


Once a race has made choice of its liquor, it clings thereto with a more than superstitious tenacity, and may be induced to change even its religion with less reluctance and a lighter sense of misgiving...Perhaps in some degree responsible for his stamina, whisky even more than Calvinism has been his main discipline and inspiration. .....Old-world Scotland; Glimpses of its Modes and Manners ©Thomas Finlayson, 1844-1923


It maks a body cheerie
Or maks a body greet:
It maks a body steerie
Or ca's ye aff your feet.
It maks a body canty
Or maks a body glum:
It maks a body ranty
Or maks ye unco mum (Drink)
..... William Soutar quoted in The Scots Cellar, Its Traditions and Lore by F. Marian McNeill, 1956


The excessive drinking indulged in at Lowland funerals in the eighteenth century seems to have been coincident with the transition from ale to whisky. The provision of refreshments was in many cases a necessity, on account of the long distances some mourners had to come. The ordinary was originally ale, with bread and cheese ; but when whisky began to be supplied on the same bounteous scale as the milder beverage, the consequences were sometimes appallingly ludicrous and sometimes hideously indecent....In 1616 the funeral expenses of Sir Hugh Campbell of Calder amounted to £l,647 16s. 4d., Scots, of which no less than a fourth went in whisky
.....Old-world Scotland; Glimpses of its Modes and Manners ©Thomas Finlayson, 1844-1923


May this be our maxim wher'er we are twirl'd,
'A fig for the cares of this whirl-a-gig world.'
.....Anonymous


Scotland has in its power to give the world such whisky as few can dream of; and the world would again be better...With such whisky to help it, the world would grow kindlier and more wise, aware of beauty and comforted with friends.... Eric Linklater: The Lion and the Unicorn, 1935


We are na fou, we're that fou,
But just a drappie in our ee;
The cock may craw, the day may daw,
But ay we'll taste the barley bree.
.....Robert Burns


The ruddy complexion, nimbleness and strength of these people is not owing to water-drinking b ut to the aqua vita, a malt spirit which is commonly used in that country.... An Exciseman ( tax collector) writing in 1736

These generous whiskies [the single ones] with their individual flavours, recall the world of hills and glens, of raging elements, of shelter, of divine ease. The perfect moment of their reception is after bodily stress--or mental stress, if the body be sound. The essential oils that wind in the glass then uncurl their long fingers in lingering benediction and the whole works of creation are made manifest. At such moment the basest man would bless his enemy......
Neil Gunn


Honor, love, fame, wealth may desert us, but thirst is eternal.
.....Anonymous


Whisky has made us what we are. It goes with our climate and with our nature. It rekindles old fires in us, our hatred of cant and privilege, our conviviality, our sense of nationhood, and, above all, our love of Scotland.
......R.H. Bruce Lockhart



Whisky, and that of the crudest and most shuddering quality, is undoubtedly the Scotchman's peculiar vanity. The amount that he can consume without turning a hair is quite appalling. I have seen a Scothman drink three bottles of Glenlivet on a railway journey from King's Cross [LONDON] to Edinburgh, and when he got out at Edinburgh, he strutted doucely to the refreshment bar and demanded further whisky.
.....Thomas William Hodgson Crosland, The Unspeakable Scot,Grant Richards publishers,London, © 1902



How did it happen that the Picts passed away, like Shakespeare's cloud-capped towers and solemn temples, leaving not a wrack behind? As the Maglemosians vanished before them? And as the Gael is ebbing away after them with the utter inevitability of an uncorked bottle? Can it be - horror! - that the white logic of the water of life [whisky] reflects the face of civilization as the face of an idiot-Narcissus? That the whole game is not worth putting the cork back for? Have I stumbled here by chance on what whisky has really meant to Scotland?
.....©Neil M. Gunn, Whisky and Scotland, 1935 Routledge


THE DEMON DRINK
Oh thou demon Drink, thou fell destroyer,
Thou curse of society, and its greatest annoyer.
What hast thou done to society, let me think?
I answer thou has caused the most of ills, thou demon Drink.
Thou causest the mother to neglect her child,
Also the father to act as he were wild,
So that he neglects his loving wife and family dear,
By spending his earnings foolishly on whisky, rum and beer.
.....William Topaz McGonagall, The Demon Drink