Scotland's largest city Glasgow is a wonderful, creative modern metropolis with an industrial, working class soul. And, as BILL WATT discovers, the city's own urban whisky is similarly enthralling.
IT was one of those days at the local bottle shop. I knew my whisky stocks were running low, but I wasn't up for spending three figures on a favourite tipple from the isles of Scotland. So, the question was, what else was on offer?
Almost like magic my eye was drawn to a smartly packaged number with a lower number on the box ($55). What really grabbed my attention was the line "Crafted in Glasgow since 1823".
Now, it wasn't that long ago that my daughter Erin had been living in Scotland's biggest city, Glasgow, and it had really grabbed a part of her heart. She loved its modern vibe, creative intensity and multicultural essence mixing in with its Scottish soul.
And, of course while she was there my wife Marie and I visited her. To be fair, the rain never stopped during our visit. But, with Erin's help, we got to see a side of the city that left you impressed with how far Glasgow, on the banks of the mighty Clyde River, had advanced as an egalitarian, highly cultured destination.
From a poverty stricken, polluted, sectarian-riven, crime-addled industrial, tenement jungle a few generations back, Glasgow has dragged itself up to be one of the prides of Scotland. It ain't perfect (and sectarianism is still a weeping sore in some parts), but, wow, what a transformation.
Anyway, back to the bottle shop. So, inside the packaging that caught my eye - and won my cash - was a bottle of Auchentoshan (pronounced ock un tosh un) American Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky. And, I'm telling you, it was a very well spent $54.
It proved to be a very smooth drop ... and surprisingly tasty. Of course there was none of the peaty, saltiness of the island drops, but this lowland charmer has a soft but fruity palate that wakes you up rather than makes you yawn. Just perfect after a hard days work, when you want to catch the finale of the Netflix series you have been watching for the past few weeks.
The makers say their triple distilled American Oak whisky is "mellowed in only the finest bourbon casks" and has subtle notes of "coconut, vanilla and rich toffee". My palate rebelled against the idea of coconut notes in a whisky distilled in Glasgow, but I do get the "rich toffee" claim. Actually, if I try hard, the vanilla comes through, too. Whatever, this drop is certainly tasty.
Auchentoshan's distillers are loudly proud of their whiskies' origins on the outskirts of Glasgow. "We’re the city's single malt," they proclaim on their web site. "And just like the ever-changing city we were born in, we’ve taken progress and diversity to our hearts."
Yep, I'll drink to that.