So here I am at 40,000 feet. Somewhere over the Atlantic. And I have a choice, Or rather, choices. Do I watch an inflight film to bring a much-needed dose of laughs? Or do I get the sleep my body and mind desperately craves after crossing more times zones in the last two months than Doctor Who manages in an entire season?
I don’t argue with those who say I have the best job in the world: there really is nothing that can beat crawling around a warehouse discovering the secret fruit of a little-known distillery in a far-off land. But now it is so much better to arrive than travel in hope.
Indubitably, one of the greatest inventions of modern times is the in-flight technology which allows you to watch the film of your choice, when you want, and then switch it all off and sleep. And there has been a film doing the rounds this year, on at least five carriers I have travelled, which has made me think about whisky in a way I had never quite thought before. The concept at the heart of The Invention of Lying, which stars Ricky Gervais, was unique; that there is a world in which no-one lies,
Perhaps more to the point, the concept of lying doesn’t exist because the brain isn’t wired that way, So everyone tells the truth, no matter how hurtful.
This intriguing concept has been so firmly planted in my mind, it got me thinking about whisky. Just what if our world was like that? That the way our brains functioned didn’t allow us to tell or process anything other than fact. In the Invention of Lying, Coke and Pepsi are the fall guys. But it could have been beer or burgers… or whisky. Just how different would our whisky world be? Let’s see how it might look…
This world: Glen Miller Distillery. Since 1807.
In Ricky Gervais’ world: Well, the building in which the distillery stands was erected in 1807 as a workhouse, but it has been producing Scotch single malt whisky since only the 1950s. Often badly.
Glenn Miller Indian Blended Whisky.
We call it whisky but no-one else in the world would. It is made essentially from molasses, not grain. If you like rum, you might like this.
Glen Haggis 12-years-old. A very fine blend of specially selected Highland malt whisky.
It looks dark because we have put liberal amounts of caramel in it. Most of the casks we used were third fill, so there was very little natural colour, so we topped it up with artificial colouring to make it look older and more attractive.
The Frying Scotsman Blend. A classic blend of finest old Scotch whiskies.
This contains 95 per cent grain and five per cent malt, none of which are over three-years-old, and are basically what we can get for the low price we – and you – are willing to pay. As this is probably the cheapest whisky you’ll find in the supermarket, what do you expect?
Old Barney. Premium Irish Pot Still Whiskey.
Actually, it’s single malt. Not traditional Irish Pot Still – as in made from a mix of malted and unmalted barley. Still, at least it is Irish Pot Still from the point of view that it is Irish and made in a pot still.
Glen Mothball’s 30-Years-Old Warehouseman’s Reserve (bottle tasting notes): “A rich tapestry of pine and eucalyptus works beautifully with the spices and citrus. A handsome Christmas pudding fruitiness, complete with walnuts and tangerines, shows this distillery at the height of its power.” Jon Smith, Master Distiller.
“A load of old casks we didn’t know what the hell to do with as they are now offering little but wood and are obviously well past their sell-by date. Added to them are one or two slightly better sherry butts which might just provide some damage limitation. We thought about selling them off to the private bottlers, but as this distillery hasn’t made any whisky for more than 25 years, we thought we might get a premium price for it. Some of you might like this, but we aren’t exactly holding our breath.”
I think you get the picture… So which do we prefer? The truth? Or romance? And, by implication, does that mean romance is based on something that isn’t strictly true? Hmmm. I just need to close my eyes and think about that one for a second… zzz.