Water of life

In search of uisge, or whisky, in the distilleries of the rugged northern Scottish Highlands, a discovery is made about the poetic landscape that gave rise to golf, tartan and haggis.

“Oh whiskey is the life of man,
Always was since the world began”

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So goes the old Irish ditty. Whisky has been made in Ireland and Scotland since 1405, and the word whisky itself is derived from uisge or uisce, Scottish and Irish Gaelic respectively for water, and beatha – ‘of life’.

The Gaelic of yore is still used in pockets of Scotland, which I visited last drizzly September. There’s water everywhere, especially from the skies, but the waters I was looking for reside in unperturbed oak barrels, where they rest for eight years or more until they transform into ambrosial single malt nectar.

 

Excerpt from the January 2016 issue of epicure.