Thursday, July 22, 2010

Och aye!

In the northern spring of 1998, Sweetheart Vivienne and I rode our tandem bicycle from Lands End to John O’Groats. Our 1,175 miles (1,891 km) journey took 37 days. And on almost all of them it rained. As we pedalled through western Scotland, Sweetheart Vivienne exclaimed she didn’t mind that rain at all – as it’s so pure they make Scotch whisky from it. They do indeed [1]. Scotland’s famous for its whisky. In many ways. A lesser known one concerns the SS Politician [2] – a cargo ship that in 1941 ran aground in a gale off the Outer Hebrides, near the island of Eriskay [3] – with 264,000 bottles of whisky on board. The islanders, alcohol starved due to WWII rationing, looted the ship to the tune of 24,000 bottles. These events prompted Scottish author Sir Compton Mackenzie [4] to write his novel Whisky Galore in 1947 [5]. And in 1949 Whisky Galore!, a comedy film, was released [6]. In the 69 years since 1941, only a few of the remaining bottles have been salvaged from the SS Politician’s wreck. Next 18 August one of these bottles (pictured) – of Ballantine’s [7]– will be auctioned in Edinburgh [8]. The salvaged whisky’s rarity, and the romance associated with it, is generating great interest. The expected price is A$2,000-3,000. A spokesman of the auction house Bonhams [9, 10], said the whisky’s ‘still very drinkable’. Me? I’m not bidding. I’d rather cycle through the Scottish rain than drink Scotch whisky. Och aye!

P.S. My Dad, whose 98th birthday’s today, was partial to a nip of Scotch.

6 comments:

WriterBee said...

'Whisky Galore' was filmed on the island of Barra, the ancestral home of the McNeils. Next week there's a McNeil reunion on the island, which as I remember was the site of our only rest day on that famous tandem ride. Recently the laird of the clan died I think.

farmdoc said...

Yes, 17 May 1998 was our only rest day. We spend it on Barra. It was a rest day only because it was a Sunday, and as Barra's community's very so religious that they didn't permit ferry travel on Sundays. I don't know if today - 12 years later - this is still so.
That rest day was a sunny day - as I recall the only one on our journey - and we were sunburnt. We were astounded that the best weather we had on our entire tandem ride was on the Outer Hebrides - where we expected to endure the worst weather.
Incidentally, and apropos of not much, my research for this post revealed that Scotch whisky's spelt without an e, and Irish whiskey's spelt with an e.

Meg said...

Happy birthday Grandad Ulman who I was never lucky enough to meet. xx

farmdoc said...

I do like the idea of politicians sinking. And, unlike the SS Politician, even better when the sink without a trace. It rarely happens, though. I mean they sink (not) often enough, but usually not without a trace. They seem to be enamoured of their own importance, wisdom, and public irresistability.

WriterBee said...

Case in point: Mark Latham.
I hate all politicians all the time but especially during election campaigns.

Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

Great true story, how odd the two spellings of whisk(e)y.
I spent a month on the Isle of Skye and it rained every day; I was supposed to be on the south coast of Engand with girlfriends, where they had a heat wave, returning home without a tan was hard to explain!