Blue Roses And A Rare Whisky

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - February 13, 2008
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Need to say it with flowers, but bored with the usual red or yellow roses? Trust a whisky maker to come up with something a little different. In Japan, Suntory Ltd. (best known as makers of beer and Yamasaki whisky) have identified the gene in roses that leads to synthesis, and have created a blue rose. And while it might look a little odd in its initial press releases (looks more purple than anything), Suntory is confident it will sell several thousand dozen of the blue flower next Valentine’s Day.

Johnnie Walker Blue may be the perfect pairing if the theme of your Valentine’s gifts change color next year. Who says romance has to be about champagne and fine wine? And aren’t you sick of all that red?

Whisky has such a unique tradition and is such an incredible part of the Scottish landscape that, for me, there’s no more romantic spirit on earth.

To visit a Scottish whisky distillery is to take a trip through the history of Scotland. There’s been whisky making there officially since 1494 when official records show a friar John Cor noting his production of uisgebeatha (the water of life). Several distilleries lay claim to the title of oldest in the country, though Strathisla is generally recognized as one of the oldest - it was established in 1786, followed by Oban in 1794. But when it comes to romance, it’s hard to beat the tiny, three-man distillery at Edradour. The distillery is situated in the breathtaking hills above Pitlochry in Perthsire. If you ever get the feeling that life is moving too fast, or that you wish time would stand still or at least slow down, then my advice is take a trip to Edradour. With its perfectly whitewashed farm buildings and bright-red painted doors, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this tiny hamlet housed a model farm. Inside, the same wooden mash tuns are used, and the same time-honored methods of whisky production are in place just as they were when the distillery opened 180 years ago. With tiny copper stills - the smallest in Scotland - Edradour stands proudly as a testament to Scottish whisky production and its place in history. There’s no automation at Edradour, where three men, led by master distiller John Reid, do everything by hand. The last time I went to visit I’d forgotten to call first and everyone was too busy working to stop for a chat and a dram. I hung around the distillery for a few hours, taking in the simple beauty of it all, and watching the river flow by. And then I went back the next day for a visit. What I love about this snapshot of the whisky world is that nothing has changed here for decades. Oh, they brought in a new-fangled refrigerator about 40 years ago, but that’s just about the only automated thing in the place - and now it’s ancient, too.

They make 12 casks of whisky a week - about 250 bottles - where a distillery such as The Glenlivet, for example, will produce 4 million bottles a year. Of course, that means there aren’t too many bottles of Edradour sitting on supermarket shelves, but that just adds to the romance.

Hand-crafted, rare, unchanged and unchanging, with a little piece of Scottish history in every bottle, Edradour is a stunning example of the timeless traditions of whisky making.

Aged in oak barrels for 10 years, it has warm hints of sherry and a remarkably creamy, smooth texture. Look for almonds, a tiny bit of smoke and an aftertaste that’s quite crisp and clean. Golden in color with the attractive flavors of almonds and vanilla on the nose, Edradour is a rare and special treat.


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