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  1. #1
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    When single-malts were a novel idea

    This might not be a regular kilt issue theme, but as most of us kilties are partial to a dram or two, I thought I would sound you out on this...

    I happened to be flicking through a back-number of The Scots Magazine (December 1971, to be precise) today, and came across a startling article.

    Under the headline of 'Straight Malt' the writer recounts his recent novel experience of going on the first ever organised single-malt tasting.

    Put on by the Spey Valley Tourist Organisation, this was the first single-malt tasting to be available to the public - with the aim of introducing malt whiskies to both the public and hoteliers alike, and so open up a new market.

    Up until this time, most readily available bottled Scotch was blended, as quality standards, flavours, character, etc, could be controlled; whereas malts were less predictable and so were thought too risky to market.

    Many of the popular blends available at that time are no longer seen, while the distilleries have widened their single-malt offerings to a bewildering degree. The days of having only the option of a standard ten- or 12-year-old, with maybe an 18-year-old 'rare' as the rich man's option, seem long-gone.

    So how would you like to go back to a maltless time..?

    What would be your blend of choice..?

  2. #2
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    Personally, I love the single malt idea because it allows more variation that can be done in smaller batches. But, if Laphroaig or Lagavulin or any of the other Islay makers wanted to do a blend, I'd probably be on board.

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  4. #3
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    The article says that all the single-malt and single-grain whiskies then available were sampled.

    That is, a total of 49 single-malts and one single-grain.

    Amazing to think what the offering is now, but some of the distilleries that were producing back in 1971 are no longer operational.

    The adverts in the magazine are a fun glimpse into the past, too. And what prices..!

    Would you not like to see double width tartan still at 0.96 ($1.23) a yard, and 70"x80" rugs for 2.95 and postage at just 0.20..?

    And a bottle of Scotch might be as much as 2.00..! I'd be a dipso' at that price.

    It's all proportionate, though. A working man would have been earning around 20 a week, and could live fairly comfortably - a long way from the 680 nowadays.

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  6. #4
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    Looking through, for example, vintage bagpipe catalogues it's hard to not be amazed at the prices.

    There was a discussion about this a few years ago on a piping site, and one person posted this:

    40 in 1955 is equivalent in purchasing power to about 1,056.37 in 2020

    The bottom line seemed to be that bagpipe prices haven't changed much over the years when compared to the value of the pound and people's average wages at the various time-periods.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 6th June 24 at 03:54 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  8. #5
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    (Only slight change of direction): The economics professor at my undergrad school was Prof Rankin. He emigrated from Scotland with his parents when he was about 6. He gave me about 11 years worth of the Scotsman from about that same time period (late 60s-70s). They are up in the attic somewhere. I learned a great deal from them. I got the read Para Handy tales, place name origins from Bill Nicolaisen (whom I later got to know), stories and history from Alistair Carmichael, pictures of how highland dress was worn in Scotland, and so much more.

    Good stuff. I need to dig them out again.
    "There is no merit in being wet and/or cold and sartorial elegance take second place to common sense." Jock Scot

  9. #6
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    I think it's a shame what blended whisky has become. There are few real high quality blends on the market, though bottlers like Compass Box and Douglas Laing are doing fine work. I have a few favorites outside of those blenders, as well, but the premium has now been applied to single malts, which puts pressure on them to produce at volume a product that can only benefit from careful selection at all stages of production. This economic condition has also placed all the demand risk on the individual distillery, placing additional upward pressure on prices and downward pressure on quality.

  10. #7
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    I drink blended Scotch every day, and save my $$$ for the good stuff - Lagavulin being my favorite. Ardbeg has some good ones too. Cragganmore is my favorite for smoothness - and for freinds that dont enjoy the smoke.

    i find it interesting that blending seems to just be a thing with Scotch. I think nearly all bourbon is bottled and sold by the original distiller.

  11. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBH View Post
    I think nearly all bourbon is bottled and sold by the original distiller.
    Plenty of blending going on in the bourbon world as well. Also, lots of contract private label distilling.

  12. #9
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    i see "lablers" pitching their wares as free samples at Total Wine all the time. $50 for a fifth of swill. i always wonder if they make any money.

  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troglodyte View Post
    So how would you like to go back to a maltless time..?
    I wouldn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Troglodyte View Post
    What would be your blend of choice..?
    I wouldn't know. Don't recall ever having one.
    Tulach Ard

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