An Introduction to Dave Broom

IN

For some of you, Dave Broom, of thewhiskymanual.uk, and many a credible online whisky publication, may need no introduction. You might still wonder why he’s doing writing for us? Here he explains how the idea started and where we’re going to take it. 

Dave Broom [DB]:  “The idea for these essays (can I really call them that?) started a wheen of years ago, during a long chat with the late and much-missed Carl Reavey. (When was any chat with Carl not long, and fascinating?) As we rambled around the hills behind the distillery, the conversation rambled around everything from music, to ecology, to birds and, finally, the subject of terroir.

” ‘Why don’t you write a series about that?’ asked Carl.

” ‘It might be tricky,’ I replied, wondering how best to frame the next sentence and not lose a dear friend. ‘I’m just not comfortable with the way that the term is used when talking about whisky.’

“We wandered on and by the time we got back to the still-house, I’d agreed to write a series about… you guessed it… terroir – but in its widest sense. Finally, here we are. Some thoughts about where whisky sits within Scotland – and how Scotch sits within the world of whisky. I suspect I won’t use the ‘T-word’. It’s useful, but I think it excludes the human and cultural element.

“Whisky, for those working in, or for, a distillery, writing about it, or simply loving it, can be all-consuming. The consequence of this is that whisky is seen as existing in its own space, untouched by the world, politics, economics, etc. It doesn’t. It is tied up in all the complexities of life. It is a lens through which we can talk about history, biodiversity, language, science – all these elements which make up culture.

In a field of Bere barley with Dr Peter Martin, UHI Orkney

“…many links have been fractured – between farmer and distiller, forester and sawmill and cooperage, truth and marketing, people and place.”

“Looking at where whisky is today also means looking at its past, and seeing what we can learn, what’s been lost, and what can be repurposed.

“The more you look, the more you realise how many links have been fractured – between farmer and distiller, forester and sawmill and cooperage, truth and marketing, people and place.

“As Scotch dominated the world of whisky for over 100 years, complacency set in. I don’t think it was deliberate, nor that the whiskies were poor, but without any obvious challenge it was perhaps inevitable. Scotch operated at scale, the consequence being that those old personal relationships – the farmer and the distiller for example – were replaced by a more streamlined business model.

“The coming of single malt began to change this mindset, then the arrival of ‘world whisky’ helped Scotch to once again examine what it is and how it fits into this very different world.

“That has meant a philosophical look at what is possible within whisky, and much of that comes with re-establishing those broken links. Through that, comes an understanding of how distillers are becoming re-engaged with their place.

“One of the pieces will look at the new crop of distilleries in the Hebrides and west coast, showing how important a distillery is to remote communities – and the increased social responsibilities which comes with it.

“Another will examine the exploration of cereals which is underway in Scotland and, finally looking at how this is not restricted to Scotch, but ties into a global network of like-minded thinkers.”

 

Watch this space over the next wee while for Dave’s essay series; join our mailing list to have them delivered to your inbox.

Follow Dave @davewasabi

Further Reading

See what Bruichladdich mean when talking about Terroir >

“Land and Dram” united has long been the rallying cry of our Islay barley series. Find out more about our obsession with barley here >

See more about Bere barley > the heritage grain that makes delicious distinctive whisky.

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