Victoria Stewart talks to Rachel McCormack about her new book, a travelogue around Scotland looking at what whisky means to the people who drink it.
Despite having spent a great deal of time in Scotland, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to think about the significance of its most famous drink, its influence around the world, why we never cook with it, and what it means to all the people who drink it.
Until last week, I’d certainly never realised that the whisky industry is Scotland’s third biggest industry after oil and technology, that there are 118 working distilleries, that its exports earn £125 every second and that it directly employs over 10,000 people. Take a brand like Johnnie Walker, for example, which some might take for granted in this country but which sells 225 million 750cl bottles every year globally, and which originated in a tiny village called Kilmarnock in the lowlands of Scotland.
Before now, my idea of whisky related to a few choice memories: the distinct grainy whiff that we’d smell during holidays visiting my grandmother in Aberdeenshire, home to over a dozen whisky distilleries; it’s the grimy shots of it we did as teenagers one summer when we’d run out of Smirnoff Ices and had to raid someone’s dad’s drinks cabinet in search of an alternative; more recently, it was finding out that enjoying whisky also meant sharing it with friends, and chatting long into the night over several glasses.
To read the story in full, which originally appeared in the Evening Standard in August 2017, click here.