The iconic ‘Striding Man’ logo gracing bottles of Johnnie Walker Whisky is an apt inspiration for the title of this very highly researched & entertaining book by Nicholas Morgan.
Boldly striding across the centuries Johnnie Walker has witnessed many ups & downs as well as twists & turns within the whisky industry.
Originating in 1820 from a Kilmarnock grocers shop specializing in blending tea, Johnnie Walker went on to take full advantage of the Coffey Still to blend whisky.
By 1878 the business was expanding massively to cater for demand while both the Highland Malt & the big 4 Dublin Whisky Distilleries mounted a campaign to prevent ‘silent spirit’ being labelled as whisky.
By 1890 Scotch was outselling Irish – up until then the biggest & most reputable whisky sold worldwide – and has done so ever since.
The book chronicles that period of growth for Scotch – blended whisky in particular – as well as many other escapades the Striding Man encountered along the way
A Long Stride is a wonderful read for anyone wishing to grasp the historical complexities & choices made by previous generations that currently shape the whisky industry today.
It certainly makes me ponder how decisions being made now – often echoing those of the past – will shape the future.
Whatever tomorrow brings the Striding Man – & latterly Striding Woman – will certainly be found playing a key role.
The popularity of the Peaky Blinders show continues to enthrall viewers with the much anticipated last series – and talk of a film too!
This very well researched & easily readable book traces the origins of the Peaky Blinders – or rather peaky blinders – a generic term attributed to street thugs operating in Birmingham from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.
As in a lot of popular culture – the facts paint a different picture to the highly stylised fictional tales of the Shelby family.
Those looking for historical authenticity would do well to read this book – it doesn’t preclude you from enjoying the show – & may even add to the experience.
Another way of heightening the enjoyment might be pouring a glass of Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey!
Halewood International have played a – ahem – blinder in releasing a range of spirits to accompany the success of the show.
So much so they’ve announced the building of a new distillery in Birmingham to satisfy the demand!
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.
Ostensibly tracing the failures & fortunes of one family across the generations – it also captures the ups & downs of the British Empire through the involvement of that same family.
In doing so it details the centrality of the slave trade to British prosperity – the wars fought to maintain that wealth – and the role Rum played in holding it all together.
In the 18th Century Britain ruled the waves.
It’s ships exported manufactured goods, captured slaves from Africa to work the colonies in the Caribbean & N America & imported rum, sugar, coffee, cotton & tobacco from the exploitation of those slaves.
It made Britain – and all the other European powers involved – extremely rich.
The sailors on those ships were given a daily rum ration – not abolished until the 1970’s – and members of the authors family were central in procuring some of that rum – as well as overseeing the Jamaican colony where a lot of it came from.
The book is a fascinating insight into a dark period of human history where the complete subjugation & exploitation of one people for the unsustainable profits of another was deemed ‘good business’.
I just hope the rum I enjoyed while reading this book came about by a much more sustainable & equitable manner.
A highly recommended read that brings to life the horrors of the past & sheds some light on today’s travails.
Tequila – along with it’s agave stablemate Mezcal – features in this adventurous tale of a teenager traversing Mexico in a car – purchased in Texas – with the goal of selling it in Belize & thereby funding the trip.
There are many twists & turns along the way.
Tequila Oil is actually a cocktail.
The author used it to cement business deals – as recommended by the bank he worked for in Mexico City.
The ingredients are;
Habanero Chilli Sauce
Maggie Liquid Seasoning
Mix together to form a black oily consistency.
Garaunteed to blow your head!
I didn’t try it personally – but then I’m not seeking a bank loan in Mexico!