Writing a blog about a book charting the rise of container shipping from a small, local idea, into the global phenomena it is today might prompt you to ask;
“What has it to do with whiskey?”
A lot as it happens.
There was tonnes of well researched data, information, anecdotes & analysis in this highly readable publication. Having spent a lifetime in transportation – familiar places, ports, methods of movement & company names inhabited every chapter.
Whiskey didn’t actually feature until page 165 – but what a nugget!
Establishing the first fully containerised shipping routes in 1966 between the US & Europe – a certain commodity was carried.
“Among Sea-Land’s first ports of call was Grangemouth, in Scotland, where it picked up Scotch Whisky.”
That one sentence crytalises the divergent paths Scotch & Irish took.
The container box was a disruptive technology – if you can call a rectangular steel box technology.
In the whiskey world a certain copper column was the disruptor – the Coffey Still.
The Scot’s ran with the new technology & with it built the capacity & sales to export in bulk – globally.
The Irish didn’t – & by 1966 were struggling.
It wasn’t until 1975 with the opening of New Midleton Distillery – and it’s Coffey Stills – that Irish Whiskey began to turn a corner.
But there’s another potential disruptor about – accelerated ageing.
Does it have the capability of doing for whiskey what the box did to shipping?
Only time will tell.
My thanks to Marc Levinson for the use of the quote from page 165 of The Box.