This is approximately how annoying I am when I'm in a good mood.
This is approximately how annoying I am when I'm in a good mood.
You should probably check.
It was fun to play with the other authors. I hope it was a fun read. If you're visiting for the first time because of it, welcome! Pull up a chair, page through the fiction, feel free to correct my grammar and spelling. :D
I would like to start off by complimenting your self-titled release. As a debut, it’s one of the strongest I’ve ever heard, and on Relapse of all labels. Your sudden appearance has been noted, how did Myrkur come to life?
Thank you for that! And yes, Relapse, they are a good and intelligent record label. It didn’t really come to life as some sort of event, the way a band would. I am just me writing and recording music in my house in Denmark, and I have been doing that for many years. I have lived in that particular house since age 12, and around this time, my grandmother gave me her piano that she bought when she was 16 (and paid off for probably 10 years). She was a classical pianist, but was ultimately told her hands were too small to truly learn the difficult pieces. She gave the piano to me because I have longer fingers.
So, I have made music for many years. Myrkur is a side to me, an expression of what echoes the deepest inside me, and the musical universe I hold most dear to my heart.
In what little information the Internet gleaned regarding Myrkur, I read Relapse signed you based off an experience of hearing you sing in a forest. What was sung that inspired this ambitious signing?
“Du Gamla, Du fria!”
Norse mythology is a common element among black metal. What stories contributed to your album the most?
I write music in a little more abstract way than something that follows a certain story. But I find inspiration in the Ældre Edda, the Icelandic sagas and poems about Aseguderne, Jætterne and man. Perhaps mostly in the goddesses and female figures such as Valkyrier, the female power figure that helped bring the slain warriors into Valhalla.
In the era of Danelagen, more and more evidence points towards female warriors that fought alongside the vikings. These women are called a Skjoldmø (a shield maiden), and I find this thought quite fascinating when you think about what people would like you to believe was women’s role in the 800-900s, or even what women’s role is today. The below painting by Peter Nicolai Arbo depicts a Skjoldmø dying on the battle field.
Your music has an ethereal quality backed by obvious skill; clearly you are not new to black metal. Are there any prior projects of note that you participated in that contribute to the sheer weight of your sound?
I would say many different things have contributed to my musical background. I grew up playing the violin in a symphony orchestra and also piano, and I come from a family of other musicians. And then listening to and singing choral vocals and in girl choirs, as well as Nordic folk-music and folklore.
In having played music prior to Myrkur, what fueled the desire to create a one-person black metal project?
Being isolated a lot and having the freedom to do the kind of music I wish to do, and mix the different sides of myself and sounds that I wish. I just wrote and recorded music with no intention of releasing it or even playing it for anyone. And I think the lack of ‘plans’ with this music from my side turned out to be a positive thing. It gave me freedom to just express what is inside me, with absolutely no thought about what would someone else think of it. In other music projects I do, or bands I have played in or will play in, there tends to be more people involved, and therefore more people to make decisions. For Myrkur, it is only me who decides what is right. Myrkur is the musical expression that is the most sincere and honest for me out of everything that I do.
Your music makes a balancing act of juggling beauty and ugliness, creating something altogether new that transcends both. If there were to be a singular message or feeling you would want a listener to take away from Myrkur, what would it be?
Ultimately, it must be up to the listener what music makes them feel. People associate different sounds with entirely different things from one another. But I can say that I like black metal because it dares you to go into a dark place that few people want to go today. A dark place inside yourself, because we are all made of contrasts, and no one should restrict themselves to being a one-dimensional creature. Or deny their true nature and ancient powers.
Your dedication to black metal is clear, what is it about the style that draws out your voice, in all its forms?
Saying I am dedicated to black metal feels a little limiting, or perhaps a bit vague in today’s era.
As you mention, the music I make resonates in many different musical universes, perhaps resulting in a new sound of its own. So I try to not put a genre label on Myrkur.
But I love, honor and respect the message and sound of black metal that is rooted in nature; in all things pure and frozen, like the Nordic blood that runs in my veins.
Considering your debut is an EP, what details can you divulge about your impending full-length or next release in general?
I wish to continue down this musical path that I am on and explore more. Some of the new songs I am writing at the moment are perhaps a bit more aggressive. But I still love the epic, melodic guitar riffs and the ethereal choral vocals.
Thank you for sharing your time with Cvlt Nation’s readers, do you have any parting words?
Vær hilset fellow metal supporters, I hope you are in a cold and dark place listening to some uncomfortably loud music.
This is kind of a throwback design-wise in some ways.
|Pilot E95S comes with Pilot Con-20 converter and accepts Pilot/Namiki cartridges|
Intern! Hey! Intern!
yuuuuup. (via osiasjota)
In tonight’s comic, we get to the bottom of cats.
I love Ed Wilson. This is indirectly via someone, but I don't remember who now.
“The social drive shaped the uses of imagination. It made it possible for humans to share their invisible inner worlds with each other.”
“Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge,” William Wordsworth wrote in 1798; “it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science.” And yet, perhaps short of Diane Ackerman’s gorgeous poems for the planets and a few scientific papers published in stanzaic form as a prank, the interplay of science and poetry in the pursuit of human knowledge is far from obvious, let alone celebrated, in today’s culture.
One of the most beautiful celebrations of this invisible mutuality took place on December 6, 2012, when literary nonprofit Poets House and the American Museum of Natural History hosted an unusual and wonderful event exploring the intersection of science and poetry — a dialogue between legendary Harvard sociobiologist and naturalist E.O. Wilson and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass. Their wide-ranging conversation is now collected in The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass (public library), titled after Wilson’s famous description of Homo sapiens as “the poetic species” on account of how heavily our cognitive infrastructure relies upon metaphor and associative thinking.
Since the conversation took place shortly after Wilson’s controversial — highly acclaimed and highly criticized — book The Social Conquest of Earth, Hass begins with a tongue-in-cheek question about how Wilson manages to get in so much trouble. The celebrated scientist answers with extraordinary elegance, speaking to the crucial role of science in opposing dogmas — a task never met without resistance:
Good scientists, like good innovators of any kind, are entrepreneurial, and they’re the ones that are most likely to get into trouble. And I’ve always enjoyed being in trouble. In science, trouble means progress.
One of the most fascinating and timelessly urgent inquiries the two discuss is one of equal concern to science and the humanities — the question of free will. Hass reflects:
On the literary and the philosophical side of things, this debate is about the question of free will, about the relation between human choice and the idea of fate. So many of the old stories are about fate being fulfilled or frustrated. It has always been an intense human fascination, how much freedom we have and whether we have any at all. I remember at a poetry reading in San Francisco once, during the question and answer period, an earnest young woman — she was quite pregnant, I remember—raised her hand and asked if there was such a thing as free will. The old poet Kenneth Rexroth looked at her as if he were a little ashamed of himself for having given the impression that he could answer such a question, and then said, very kindly, “We can’t know, and we have to act as if there is.” I thought that was a good answer.
Responding to Wilson’s assertion that “the deadly violence … seems to be a hallmark of our species” and “it’s our basic nature to be conflicted” — an assertion Stephen Pinker has famously defied — Hass echoes Alan Shlain’s exploration of how the invention of writing usurped female power in society and shares an observation:
For poets it’s always been interesting to notice that the culture that showed up when humans passed over the event horizon of writing was a male warrior culture.
Reflecting on Wilson’s extensive work on the evolution of culture, Hass adds to history’s greatest definitions of art by considering the creative impulse:
One of the interesting things about this idea is that it has so many echoes in art making. Artists almost always start with a kind of play based on elements that are fixed and variable, things that conventions express, set forms in music, set patterns in comedy, fixed rhythms in poetry, on the one hand, and, on the other, departures from those conventions that lead to new ways of seeing and feeling. In a way, it’s the same oscillation, between sensations that make us feel safe, part of the group, and sensations that make us feel free and on our own. The formal imagination in art — the half-conscious shaping that occurs when an artist is at work — is always working on this problem.
Wilson, who has long advocated for the importance of imaginative thinking in science and has previously argued for the cross-pollination of science and the humanities, speaks to the power of art in shaping the evolutionary history of culture:
The humanities, and especially the creative arts, are the natural history of Homo sapiens. The descriptions based on them describe the human condition and human nature in exquisite detail, over and over again in countless situations. When verbal descriptions are novel in style and obedient to the most basic principles of human nature, when they connect old memories, create new images, and stir emotions all together, we call that great literature. The important innovator produces a tableau of relationships in a story that describes not just the particularities of a place in time, but something that is true for humanity as a whole for all time.
Hass considers the social wiring of our brains and how the science of the social imperative, which Wilson has spent decades studying, feeds into the creative heart of our humanity:
The social drive shaped the uses of imagination. It made it possible for humans to share their invisible inner worlds with each other. I often think of this in relation to dreams. Once they could speak, humans could tell each other their dreams. They could find out that everybody has dreams, that there is this parallel world of meaning-making or traveling that goes on in the resting mind.
Wilson agrees, building an elegant bridge back to biology to illuminate the human paradox:
We dream together, and as a result the cultural products of human nature are vastly expanded and enriched. And approaching from the other side of the divide, biology progresses and connects with the humanities. What biology seems to be doing at the moment is to reveal the roots of ambiguity that define human nature. We’ve been talking, for example, about the eternal confliction of the human mind, between self-serving behavior for the individual and for its offspring, versus service to the group. This clash of evolutionary forces can never result in an equilibrium. If it goes too far toward individualism, societies would dissolve. If, on the other hand, it goes too far toward obedience to the group, the group would turn into an ant colony. So, we’re creatively conflicted, moving back and forth between sin and virtue, rebellion and loyalty, love and hate.
He then returns to the reconciliatory power of the humanities, but he echoes Rilke’s famous counsel to live the questions as he adds:
The creative arts are the sharing of our inner desires and humanity’s struggle. The humanities are our way of understanding and managing the conflict between the two levels that created Homo sapiens. The conflict can never be resolved. And we shouldn’t try too hard to reach a resolution. It defines our species and is the fountain of our creativity.
Hass makes a beautiful aside — then again, the entire conversation is a string of asides, which is precisely what makes it so enchanting — about the question of animal consciousness and how it first rattled poets’ belief in human exceptionalism, then enabled an embracing of science as a complementary celebration of the existential mystery:
The idea that every creature has its own reality scared poets at the beginning of the twentieth century, made some of them feel we were groping blindly — it in effect kicked us out of a comfortable anthropocentric community — but it also allowed some modern poets this sense of absolute mystery at the core of existence. It came of knowing that we would never know exactly what a bird’s experience is, or what an ant’s experience is. It has been an unhousing of the imagination, and it was brought on by the thrust of science to be at home in the world by understanding it. It said we move among great powers and mysteries and only glimpse their meanings, the meaning of what it’s like to be another creature, and therefore also the meaning of being a self, a person.
(For more on the history of this inquiry, see Joanna Bourke’s excellent What It Means To Be Human.)
Describing the powerful experience of seeing remarkably accurate 3,000-year-old carvings of birds and fish in the tombs of Cairo, Hass considers once again how science and the arts converge in our quest for meaning and sensemaking:
Science, partly by the kind of patient observation that noticed the hump on the Nile crow’s back and partly by leaps of imagination and by shared testing and dialogue, has made enormous progress in understanding certain things about the world, but the skill of those artists made me feel that we have always been pretty much in the same place with the same kind of knowledge and the same pull back and forth between ways of seeing.
But the sameness of these fundamental ways of seeing is being threatened as these seemingly eternal objects of our fascination — the wild creatures that inspired artists and scientists alike to look closer, to gasp, to wonder — are facing a heartbreaking fate. Wilson addresses this with a naturalist’s cool rigor and a moral philosopher’s passionate conviction:
I am an extremist. I believe in wildernesses. I’ve been there. I’ve studied thousands of species living there, in ecosystems much the same as they were millions of years ago. I believe, I think, in reference to the species that we might still save — and a growing number of them are endangered — that we need parks, big ones, lots more of them. I think we should be thinking about giving a large part of the world’s surface to wild land. To do so is not just being a conservationist — not just saving species — we must hold on to the rest of life… I don’t mean to make a political statement. I’m making a moral statement. We have to develop a new and better ethic to save the rest of life.
And therein, perhaps, lies the great power of poetry as an ally to science — the power to mobilize people’s imagination and open up their hearts for “the rest of life,” for our intricate connection not only with one another but also with all of Earth’s creatures. Hass captures this capacity beautifully:
We have to work at it. Wonder is one place to start. I was asked to go to my granddaughter’s kindergarten class and to talk about poetry. And I didn’t know if I would know how to do it, but I brought the book I had with me—which was the collected Poems by Elizabeth Bishop, and there is a poem of hers called “The Fish,” and it begins, “I caught a tremendous fish.” So I opened the book and said to these little kids, “Just say this poem with me, okay? ‘I caught a tremendous fish,’” and this group of kids all on the floor looked up at me and said, “I caught a tremendous fish.” And — I simplified the imagery a bit — I said, “It was very old and its skin,” and they said, “It was very old and its skin,” and I said, “Looked like roses on old wallpaper.” And they said, “Ooh.”
And I thought, this is a cinch.
Indeed, this is the broader power of art. Riffing off pioneering modernist architect Louis Sullivan’s assertion that art doesn’t fulfill desire but creates it, Hass reflects:
The way in which art creates desire, I guess that’s everywhere. Is there anyone who hasn’t come out of a movie or a play or a concert filled with an unnameable hunger? … To stand in front of one of [Louis Sullivan's] buildings and look up, or in front, say, of the facade of Notre Dame, is both to have a hunger satisfied that you maybe didn’t know you had, and also to have a new hunger awakened in you. I say “unnameable,” but there’s a certain kind of balance achieved in certain works of art that feels like satiety, a place to rest, and there are others that are like a tear in the cosmos, that open up something raw in us, wonder or terror or longing. I suppose that’s why people who write about aesthetics want to distinguish between the beautiful and sublime… Beauty sends out ripples, like a pebble tossed in a pond, and the ripples as they spread seem to evoke among other things a stirring of curiosity. The aesthetic effect of a Vermeer painting is a bit like that. Some paradox of stillness and motion. Desire appeased and awakened.
Wilson sums up with a beautiful — sublime, really — parting thought that captures the heart of the conversation:
Science and art having the same creative wellspring, which I believe can be expressed aphoristically: the ideal scientist thinks like a poet and works like a bookkeeper.
The Poetic Species is a wonderful read in its entirety, short yet infinitely simulating. Complement it with Wilson’s advice to young scientists and Dorion Sagan on why science and philosophy need each other.Share on Tumblr
Where is his plate?
This deserves so many reblogs.
Feminism is having a wardrobe malfunction.
Does your brand of feminism remove barriers for women, or simply move them around? Does is expand options for women, or does it just shift them? You don’t liberate women by forcing them to choose option B instead of option A. What is comfortable for you might not be comfortable for someone else, and it’s entirely possible that what you see as oppressive, other women find comfortable or even downright liberating.
Some women would feel naked without a veil. Some women would find it restrictive. Some women would feel restricted by a bra. Some women would feel naked without one. Some women would feel restricted by a tight corset. Others love them. Some wear lots of clothes with a corset. Some only wear the corset and nothing else. What makes any article of clothing oppressive is someone forcing you to wear it. And it’s just as oppressive to force someone not to wear something that they want to wear.
VC, fucking things up.
The extraordinary reports coming out of the Balcones distillery in Waco, Texas may yet be seen as the first of many such scenarios as venture capitalists set their sights on the craft distilling industry. The distillery founder, Chip Tate, has refused to attend board meetings with the venture capital group that owns a majority stake in the company; the VC group has, in turn, accused him of what amount to terroristic threats. Whiskey-lovers are up in arms, fearing the outcome for this iconic craft distillery; the Twitter hashtag #nochipnobalcones is spreading.
Here’s what’s happened. The distillery was established — indeed, was literally built — by president and head distiller Chip Tate in 2008 and has subsequently become one of the flagships of the U.S. craft scene internationally. With demand for the Balcones range rising, Tate needed to increase capacity and in, 2013, he and second round investor Michael Rockafellow accepted a substantial offer from a group headed by Greg Allen, along with a number of smaller investors, which bought out Stephen Germer (Balcones’ initial investor), giving them a majority stake in the company.
Allen’s background is with his family’s food processing business. Prior to that he worked in Goldman Sachs’ mergers and acquisitions department and as an attorney specializing in venture capital financing and emerging growth companies.
It appears that a combination of differing philosophies as to future strategy, a clash of personalities, and concerns over the rising costs of the distillery expansion has resulted in a deterioration in relations between Tate and the new board, with them moving to significantly reduce his role within the company he founded. As a result of this, Tate refused to attend board meetings.
On August 22nd, the boardroom battle ended up in court, where judge Gary Coley granted a temporary restraining order enforcing a 90-day suspension on Tate. According to the board, his “unconscionable and reprehensible” behavior could delay the $10 million distillery expansion project. They also alleged that Tate had threatened the life of chairman Greg Allen and suggested he would rather see the distillery burn than have it wrested from his control, claims which most commentators feel were made in the heat of the moment and are hardly credible.
While Allen has made some documentation available to the court, the restraining order has gagged Tate, preventing his side of the story to be heard. (For the record, we have not attempted to speak to him, nor have we received any communication from him.) A hearing in the case is set for Sept. 18.
It leaves a number of questions. The extreme reaction of the board to the apparent rise in costs of the new facility (inevitable in any distillery build) has raised questions as to the financial stability of Allen’s investment group, and makes some analysts wonder whether the Allen-led consortium was investing in Balcones with the intention of selling it at a profit soon after the expanded plant was in production.
If so, this will not be the last time we will see this happen. Investors unfamiliar with the long-term nature of the whisky business are liable to only see potential profit, with no great understanding of the deep pockets required to invest in plant, warehousing, and inventory. What further complicates matters where craft distilleries are concerned is that they are not just buying into a brand, but a highly personalized vision. Without Chip Tate, is there — can there be — a Balcones?
Can't remember whose share I saw this on... but worth sharing again. Very much.
A song that I think is about the death of their father.
These look reasonably nice.
|Faber-Castell Basic in Black Carbon|
The Pen and Cape Society has just released the eleventh chapter of the Super Choice Adventure, a group fiction project where you, the reader, gets to vote who writes the next chapter.
Chapter 11 was my turn, and things got a little out of hand.
By "a little out of hand" I mean "the average chapter has been around 1400-1500 words and my initial draft came in at 3600 FREAKING WORDS so I pared it down to 2750 FREAKING WORDS which is still too much but I ran out of time so there it is."
Anyway: The Super Choice Adventure Page, for those of you who are curious but who haven't been following it. And Chapter 11, my ridiculously overgrown contribution, for your consideration and enjoyment.
Basic rule of punning.
Lots of scrolling, but good.
Still not sure I shouldn't be making liquor.
“An activity involving skill in making things by hand.”
“Denoting or relating to food or drink made in a traditional or non-mechanized way by an individual or a small company.”
“An art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill, especially manual skill.”
And then there’s this:
“Skill used in deceiving others.” As in, “He used craft and guile to close the deal.”
That last one is archaic but relevant, because everyone these days wants to claim the word “craft” and apply it to their company and its products. That includes the largest companies in the business. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The world’s largest beer makers have been trying to co-opt “craft brewing” for decades.
In a recent conversation with Chris Morris, he cited the dictionary. Morris is Brown-Forman’s master distiller and the occasion was a press event to launch a new craft series for Old Forester Bourbon. (It’s pretty cool, but more on that later.) Morris said, “The dictionary says craft is about experience, knowledge, and skill. We have all those things.”
Ewan Morgan, a Diageo brand ambassador for whiskies, puts it this way: “Craft is about artisanship, passion, experience, great liquid, great products.”
I’m not going to quarrel with the big guys — not here, anyway — but the problem with their point-of-view is this. “Craft” cannot merely mean “well made.” If everything is craft, then nothing is. The word becomes useless as a way to distinguish something from something else.
If the definitions above are vague as applied to craft spirits, the American Distilling Institute (ADI) has one that is very specific. It defines “craft spirits” as “the products of an independently-owned distillery with maximum annual sales of 52,000 cases, where the product is physically distilled and bottled on site.”
Jackie Summers is a craft spirits producer in Brooklyn, New York, who makes an enticing liqueur called Sorel. He doesn’t distill anything. His craft is working with and combining botanicals and other natural ingredients to produce a drink that is original, even as it seems familiar. He is also skilled at crafting thoughts.
“Before the advent of public education,” he writes, “people learned a trade through the apprenticeship model. Apprentices would begin to study with a master in their mid-teens, and continue into their early twenties. It was not until you took on your own students that you could claim mastery yourself. By this method, generations of skills were handed from one to the next — you honed your craft — based on a simple principle: you don’t become great by trying to be great. You become great by doing something over and over again, learning as you go. Greatness is a process. As Aristotle said, we are what we do repeatedly.
“Ultimately craft distillers see themselves as artists, their distillate being their art,” he continued. “Sure, you could start off with a concept, hire food scientists to chemically analyze and then reverse engineer a liquor. But what makes small batch production special is the tiny inconsistencies from batch to batch that give a product character; the miraculous way one bale of wheat may differ ever so slightly from the next, or how actual botanicals play and dance with each other in a way that chemical compounds can only imitate. Remove these tiny fluctuations, and the end result is sterile perfection.”
Now we’re getting somewhere.
Craft is about things made, not necessarily from scratch, but where an artisan effects some kind of transformation. For something to be “craft,” an artisan must conceive and execute an idea, and it must be a production idea, not a marketing one. The craft performed must directly impact the product, not merely the packaging and promotion of it. And the artisan himself or herself must do it, perhaps with assistance (e.g., apprentices, journeymen), but the unmistakable mark of the master’s hand must be on the final product.
Craft has nothing to do with the size of the company. It is the product that represents the craft, not the producer. A corporation may be a legal person, but a corporation cannot be an artisan. A corporation cannot be a master distiller.
The artisans working at the producers most recognized for their craft whiskeys — Balcones, Koval, Corsair, Few, Dry Fly — do it with their mastery of the materials, equipment, and processes; but also with innovation, originality, and creativity. They do things that haven’t been done before and create products unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before. That’s what the consumer wants from ‘craft.’
To make sure you get what you want when you want craft whiskey, get used to asking producers and promoters this question about their craft products: “What’s ‘craft’ about it?”
A whisky related take on Scotland for Scots.
Though if they stick with the pound, that would be really dumb.
Ian Buxton has some thoughts about the upcoming vote on Scottish independence. Not surprisingly, they center on its effects on Scotch whisky. Be honest; that’s exactly the way many people who read this blog evaluate it!
At last! At last, the Scotch whisky industry has woken up to the potential dangers of a ‘yes’ vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum (you can explore the issues, facts, opinions, and polls on a BBC site here).
In summary, on September 18th, voters in Scotland will give a YES/NO answer to a simple question: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’
The question is a momentous one, involving the break-up of the 300 year old United Kingdom and turning Scotland and England into foreign countries. The debate has run on for nearly two years, with no final and satisfactory answers to questions such as ‘what currency will Scotland use, and on what basis?’, ‘will an independent Scotland be part of the European Union?’ and ‘how will all this be paid for?’
The expectation is that if Scotland breaks away it will follow a more left-wing political and social agenda than has previously been the case for the United Kingdom as a whole. The nationalist case is that Scotland, a country rich in natural assets, can well afford to stand on its own. The North Sea oil fields are frequently mentioned as a major source of income, though as the No campaign loudly responds, eventually the oil will run out. No one knows exactly when, but that the wells will finally run dry isn’t in dispute.
That leaves whisky as one of the few remaining national assets that can’t easily get up and leave (a large part of the significant Scottish financial community could well decamp to the City of London). The fact that Scotch whisky has to be made and matured in Scotland means that it will inevitably be a long-term tax target for any future government of an independent Scotland.
The political arguments are good: the industry uses Scotland’s water but currently pays relatively little tax in Scotland itself and, while it creates employment, the high-value management jobs tend to be out of the country. Much of the economic benefit of Scotch whisky flows not to the people of Scotland, but to anonymous global multinational corporations. A tax on water extraction would be easy to measure and very hard to avoid. Why shouldn’t they pay their share?
It’s a seductive argument. What’s more, as well as a water tax, one could easily anticipate a ‘storage tax’ on every barrel slowly maturing in a Scottish warehouse (similar to Kentucky’s ad valorem tax on aging bourbon; you could expect many more NAS whiskies if that ever came in!). The current political administration of the Scottish National Party, who run the present Scottish administration, are also deeply committed to higher taxes on alcohol on grounds of health and social policy, so the price of a dram or a bottle could shoot up after a Yes vote.
You might have thought then that the Scotch whisky industry would have been lobbying hard against the independence vote and stressing the benefits of the union. But until very recently we’ve heard little; the corporate line has been “it’s for the people of Scotland to decide.”
At last, however, they have started to fight. First to break cover was former Scotch Whisky Association chief Gavin Hewitt, who has set out a clear personal position in mainstream and social media. He’s no enthusiast for an independent Scotland. “Scotland would lose influence in the world and the clout that a big country has with [EU headquarters in] Brussels; lose access to a superb network of UK embassies and trade support, and I am concerned about the consequences [of a 'yes' vote] for whisky. If it ain’t broke,” he argues “then don’t fix it.”
But Gavin is just one man. That’s not the case with William Grant & Sons’ donation of hard cash to the Better Together campaign and other pro-Union groups. Earlier this year they gave £185,000 (more than $300,000) and have been vocal in support of the status quo.
Now they’ve been joined by a number of distillers who were part of a joint letter to The Scotsman newspaper signed by 120 leading Scottish businesses which argued the case for the continued union with England. It included some impressive names such as the chief executives of the Edrington Group (Famous Grouse, Macallan, Highland Park), Inver House, Burn Stewart, and William Grant & Sons, as well as smaller concerns such as Tomatin, Adelphi, Ian Macleod Distillers (Glengoyne), and so on.
Well done, I say… and where are Diageo, Pernod Ricard, and Bacardi? This issue is simply too important to let go by default. It’s my opinion that the companies are making a mistake: they should have a view and they should express it, quickly and clearly. Their employees and customers deserve no less. This is too important a subject: Scotch whisky does not belong to Scotland alone, and the drinkers of England and Wales, let alone the wider world, want to hear the distillers’ voice: loud and clear.
Scottish Independence, if it comes, may well be good for whisky’s image, yet also, as I have suggested, push up prices. Whisky drinkers may welcome a greater strength of national identity and the proud confidence of a newly-formed nation, but will those drinkers be willing to pay more to toast an independent Scotland?
That’s the key question that no one can answer. But one thing is sure: if Scotland votes to go it alone, there will be no way back and nothing will be same ever again for the nation’s most famous export.
On September 19th we will know for sure.
Need to get a bottle of this. The 114 is rather less common in my area, though.
Old Grand-Dad 114 is a high rye (recipe) bourbon that’s……well, the grand-dad to the 100 proof Bottled-In-Bond (BIB) version I reviewed a couple years ago. As I noted in that review, the “Granddad” pays homage to Basil Hayden. Mr. Hayden was well known for favoring more rye in his bourbon mashbill than was common (even today). While we don’t know the exact percentage of rye, it’s up there. The brand is owned, distilled and bottled by Beam.
Let me say before tucking in – it’s comforting to get the reviews flowing with something that is available to most, and a reasonable (sub $30) price point.
Old Grand-Dad 114 Bourbon (Bottled in Bond), 57% abv (114 Proof), $28
Color: Deep Amber
Nose: This bourbon’s attitude is airy and effervescent even at full strength. Orange rind, burned sugars, honey, southern spearmint, touches of floral (orange blossom, honeysuckle) notes and grain (corn and dry rye). Pour and leave in the glass for a good 3-4 minutes. The initial alcohol blast quickly subsides and you can get to business.
Palate: Brief notes of honey, bitter orange, caramel and vanilla yield to warming spices (cinnamon, mint, white pepper). Barrel flavors and a bit of resiny grip lead to the finish.
Finish: Lingering finish of toasty oak, orange, and caramel sweetness.
Overall: OGD 114 is a very good bourbon and it’s different. It’s one of those whiskeys, like the 100, that you just don’t taste all the time. It’s NOT a heavy whiskey in terms of nose and flavor, but the proof nips in spots. Water is your friend, and it’s easily to dial this one into a comfort zone for you.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: (8.7 Very Good/Excellent)
...so today I learned Joan Rivers died from Metal Sucks.
Before she was late, natch.
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