Scotch myths (and truths)
Technically, I was there, at least for the tail end of the decade – I just missed the Paris Riots in May 1968 but made it in time for the Woodstock music festival, Apollo 11’s mission to the moon, and for John and Yoko’s ‘bed-in’ for peace at the Amsterdam Hilton.
I suppose for anyone who wasn’t around, or at least old enough to be able to store away their own memories of a certain era, the temptation to indulge in a bout of what SMWS founder Pip Hills describes as ‘golden-agery’ becomes almost irresistible. And for many in the modern whisky world, the 1960s was the brightest and shiniest of all golden ages.
In this issue of Unfiltered we are exploring the decade and asking what it is about whisky distilled then that continues to hold such a sway on us as drinkers, as well as for a new generation of distillers in thrall to the spirit-driven flavours associated with 1960s bottlings.
‘Golden-agery’ can also give rise to countless tall tales, one of the foremost being that the export of Scotland’s single malts only started in the 1960s. Our regular contributor Gavin D Smith has delved into the whisky history books to scotch that particular myth.
But one truth is worth restating, and who better to do it than Pip himself. In his column, he places the SMWS firmly within a cultural movement that gained momentum in the 1960s, which gave Scotland a new sense of confidence and pride not only in the country but in our produce. That confidence gave him and his pals in Edinburgh the willingness, as he describes it, to take on an establishment as mighty as the Scotch whisky industry – and ultimately to form the whisky club we know and love today.
We can all be grateful for that, whatever age we are now.