Three of our great poets have been inspired by whisky to create. This is one of the reasons we have whisky…to inspire. Please enjoy, with a glass or two of Scotland’s finest malt
Liz Lochhead, Carol Ann Duffy and Fran Baillie’s
poems about Scotland’s National Drink ~
Listen to Liz Lochhead ~ she starts about 8 minutes in
Read Carol Ann Duffy‘s wonderful poem
In Glen Strathfarrar a stag dips to the river where rainclouds gather.
Dawn, given again, and heather sweetens the air. I sip at nothing.
A cut-glass tumbler, himself splashing the amber … now I remember.
The love of the names, like Lagavulin, Laphroaig, loosening the tongue.
Beautiful hollow by the broad bay; safe haven; their Gaelic namings.
It was Talisker on your lips, peppery, sweet, I tasted, kisser.
First the appearance then the aroma, mouth-feel; lastly, the finish.
Under the table she drank him, my grandmother, Irish to his Scotch.
Barley, water, peat, weather, landscape, history; malted, swallowed neat.
Out on Orkney’s boats, spicy, heather-honey notes into our glad throats.
Allt Dour Burn’s water – pure as delight, light’s lover – burn of the otter.
The gifts to noses – bog myrtle, aniseed, hay, attar of roses.
The snows melt early, meeting river and valley, greeting the barley.
What does it whisper, the Golden Promise Barley, to the cool salt breeze?
Empty sherry casks, whisky-sublime accident – a Spanish accent.
Drams with a brother and doubles with another … blether then bother.
The perfume of place, seaweed scent on peaty air, heather dabbed with rain.
Liquid narrative of Scots and Gaelic, uttered on the tasting tongue.
With Imlah, Lochhead, Dunn, Jamie, Paterson, Kay, Morgan, with Maccaig.
Not prose, poetry; crescendo of mouth music; not white wine, whisky.
Eight bolls of malt, to Friar John Cor, wherewith to make aquavitae.
Aqua Vitae or uisge beatha, eau de vie or water of life.
A recurring dream: men in hats taking a dram on her coffin lid.
The sad flit from here to English soil, English air, from whisky to beer.
For joy, grief, trauma, for the newly-wed, the dead bitter-sweet water.
A Quaich; Highland Park; our scared sips in the shared dark when the lights went out.
Water through granite, over heathery moorland, peat, moss, grass, reed, fern.
The unfinished dram on the hospice side-table as the sun came up.
What the heron saw, the leaping salmon’s shadow, shy in this whisky.
Enjoy Fran Baillie‘s great poem
Gies a gless o yon amber swahly, ice-chinklin,
skinklin at the rim, reekin o an Islay boanfire;
a bouquet o burnt tehr an a ticky sugarelly watter
peat-steepit in tar an iodine.
Pass owre a tummlerfuhl o the cauld, wild west,
mahltit barley, slow-distilt, pure poetrie;
thon lang eftertist, heather colloguin wi dulse,
a douce toffee-aipple, a smoky baccy guff;
tert an sweet, smooth an smartin, mallayin the tongue,
sic a brah Manichaean dichotomie!
Gies a wee nip o the gowden meld, huggit lang-time in sherried oak.
Poor oot a dram ti weet wir thrapple, prickle wir palate,
gie thae tistbuds a helluva fleg, birl them, mak them dirl.
Shove yir cognac wi its pinkie in the air, kiddin-on it’s pedigree.
Stuff yir peely-wally reamin swats o barley bree,
awa wi yir Ruski voddie’s stringent ming o fermentin tattie.
Ruby rum’s wahrm an reekin-rich bit
thir’s nae dusky musk … nae je ne sais quoi.
Dinna feel guilt fir a meenit, dinna think yir wrang.
Angels aa share it wi’oot a secint thocht.
Dinna skimp noo, nae grippit huddin-back; dinna be ticht-fistit.
Heelstergowdie in luv wi feisty Laphroaig,
wi’ll sip, syne swig an drap doon inti yon mella dwam.
Poor yirsel an uisge beatha, wrap roond it, real slow,
drink in its mony colours, droon in its pungent glow.
The poetry of Scotch Malt Whisky.