Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Lightly Peated

Whisky, Blabber 'n' Smoke

BlabberDistillery Visits

Empty Words

I am well disposed to Glenmorangie (i.e. I think it’s a high quality whisky), the reception room with its displays from the distillery’s history is attractive and interesting, and the introductory film is also attractive with beautiful images and lovely photography. So why did I end up feeling like I wanted to stick my head in a bucket of cold water to try to refresh it? It was only a short film but before the end I was internally screaming “Enough!  Everything cannot be exceptionally wonderful all the time! Stop trying to batter me into admiration!”

The script was awful. Every simple detail had to be elevated to become an example of startling magnificence. The barley, for example, couldn’t just be barley it had to be “mellow gold” with “plump” ears of grain. The water had to be “crystal clear”, “natural”, “fresh”. Making Glenmorangie was both a craft that was “perfected” and a “subtle” art with knowledge passed down by men with a “passionate dedication”. The stills were of course kept in “peak” condition and only the “purest” new make was collected, and the matured in only the “very finest” casks “carefully” selected, each imparting its own “subtle” character. The whisky was, of course, only bottled when it reached the “perfect” age and  was subject to “rigorous” quality checks. The head of distilling  could not just have a PhD (in microbial physiology, which is impressive enough) he had to have “prodigious” scientific expertise coupled with “rigorous” knowledge. Etc, etc. It’s not that it is necessarily wrong it’s just that the adjectives are ladled on without thought.

In the last post I quoted Humpty Dumpty:

“’They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”

I finished the quote there but I also like the way it continues:

“’Would you tell me please,’ said Alice, ‘what that means?’
‘Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. ‘I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.’
‘That’s a great deal to make one word mean,’ Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
‘When I make a word do a lot of work like that,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘I always pay it extra.’

The PR people who wrote the script not only did what they liked with their adjectives they probably paid nothing for them or at best they paid with debased coins. The more they inflated their superlatives, the less convincing they became. It’s a shame because Glenmorangie has heritage, makes good whisky and has a history of innovation that makes an interesting story, which deserves to be well told.

P.S. Glenmorangie even as its own association with literature. The foundation year of the distillery, 1843, was also the year work started on the ornate memorial to Sir Walter Scott in Edinburgh, so early labels carried an image of the Scott Monument.

P.P.S. I would like it if other distilleries celebrated Scottish writers or artists rather that carrying on with deer, tartan, or Gaelic whatever. I know Highland Park made a whisky for Ian Rankin but surely something for George Mackay Brown should be in their core range.

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