The rich heritage of Scotch Whisky, Scotland’s national drink, is explored in a major exhibition opening at The Scottish Parliament today (Nov. 29). Visitors will have the chance to see an array of images and artefacts collected from Scotch Whisky producers and enthusiasts, many on public display for the first time.
The Scotch Whisky: From Grain to Glass exhibition in the Main Hall of The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh marks the Centenary of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the industry trade body.
Every aspect of the Scotch Whisky industry unfolds through words and images. The exhibition, which is free to visit, takes people on a journey through the distilling, coopering, maturing, bottling, labelling, enjoying, marketing and exporting of Scotch Whisky.
It explains how the “What is Whisky?” debate of the early 20th century helped establish the modern day Scotch Whisky industry. Illustrated through a series of rare postcards, visitors will learn how the 1909 Royal Commission on Whiskey and other Potable Spirits decided that only grain and malt whisky produced in Scotland, or a blend of both, could be called Scotch Whisky. This beat off the threat of distillers in Ireland who refused to blend grain and malt whiskies.
Artefacts and images on display include a mini pot still, mash tun and spirit safe, a reproduction of the Illicit Highland Whisky Still painting by Sir Edwin Landseer, 19th century maps of railways which served distilleries, coopers’ tools, classic advertising and promotional campaigns, old films, bottles from different decades, recipes for Blended Scotch Whisky from 1912 and much more.
A striking artefact standing proudly in the marketing area of the exhibition is a full size fibre glass white horse. It illustrates the White Horse brand of Scotch Whisky which is popular in many global markets. The brand has a long history, stretching back to the late 19th century, and is named after the White Horse Cellar Inn which still stands in Edinburgh’s Canongate.
Also featured in the exhibition are the people who make Scotch Whisky. Visitors can hear maltsters, coopers, master blenders, marketing professionals and many other employees talking about their skills and passions in recordings made especially for the exhibition.
Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said:
“Everyone, from Scotch Whisky aficionados to novices will learn something new from the Scotch Whisky: From Grain to Glass exhibition. Scotch Whisky's rich past is showcased, highlighting its position as an iconic Scottish product and demonstrating how vital Scotch Whisky is to the country's economy and society throughout history and now.
“Last year, Scotch Whisky exports reached a record £4.23 billion and the industry directly employs more than 10,000 across Scotland.”
“For the last 100 years, the SWA have been committed to promoting and protecting Scotch Whisky. We plan to do so for the next 100 years and beyond.”
Scottish Parliament Deputy Presiding Officer, John Scott MSP, said:
“We welcome this major exhibition to The Scottish Parliament which celebrates the rich heritage of one of Scotland’s most famous industries. From the science of distillation to the traditional art of cooperage and the whisky-inspired film screenings and poetry of Liz Lochhead, we look forward to hosting an informative, lively and entertaining exhibition here at Holyrood.”