The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)
Time to head to your happy place
With the worldwide outbreak of Covid19, there is much going on in the world that makes my rambles and thoughts on whisky insignificant.
The impact of this contagion has made the world feel a much smaller and more dangerous place indeed.
Precautions to prevent infection have seen pubs, hotels, flights, mass gatherings, concerts and sporting fixtures all cancelled.
Several distillery visitor centres, including those at Glenfiddich and Tomatin, have closed for the foreseeable future until the situation becomes more stable.
But quite what the impact will be on whisky tourism, and indeed tourism as a whole, is yet to be seen.
Exactly what financial help the government may offer is not clear, but the economic impact of the two million whisky tourists who spend time visiting our distilleries, whisky bars and pubs is quite remarkable and cannot be understated.
There are currently more than 10,000 people directly employed by the industry in Scotland, some of whom are employed on a seasonal basis as tour guides and visitor-centre workers, and a further 40,000 people within the UK whose jobs are supported by the industry.
Initially, I had decided not to make the outbreak the focus of my writing – this is a whisky column after all, and there are many others who have written more factually and eloquently than I about such issues.
I was, however, struggling to find an alternate topic to focus upon, so I took refuge in my whisky nook whilst searching for a little inspiration.
I would certainly not describe myself as a whisky collector, as nice as it would be to have such amazing collections as we have seen being auctioned recently, but I have, what I would more simply say, amassed a miscellany of bottles all of which will be opened and enjoyed at some point.
Just as a gardener may enjoy pottering around in his garden or greenhouse, I too enjoy pottering around in my whisky nook, looking back at the memories of sharing drams with friends or family members, to celebrate occasions or to commiserate upon a loss.
It is also nice to remember some of the beautiful and unique whiskies and experiences that I have been fortunate and lucky enough to have enjoyed.
At a time when “social distancing” has become accepted advice, then perhaps we all need to seek solace where we are at our happiest, in our favourite corner with our favourite book, music or perhaps even a dram.
• Andrew Flatt is an independent whisky writer and reviewer based in Inverness. He writes for and edits his own personal website AmateurDrammer.com and several other publications as well as hosting regular whisky-tasting events. He was a judge for the 2020 World Whisky Awards and was nominated for an Icon of Whisky Award as Communicator of the Year.