I call this my writing Scotch. Whenever I had difficulty getting through a story or my dissertation in grad school, I pulled out my bottle and poured a glass. I sipped it, savoring every flavor. The work would come slowly as I nursed my glass for a half hour or so, but I always finished what I was writing. That small glass kept me writing for a few more hours.
Sadly, I will never have my Scotch again. It’s not that I’m giving up drinking, or even Scotch. It’s that the company no longer distills my brand.
I was homeless for about two weeks when I was 21. I had just finished my semester in London and was waiting for my parents to visit, but I couldn’t stay in my flat. So, I took a trip around Scotland. For the last few days, I stayed in Edinburgh. After my tour of the highlands, I decided to visit Edinburgh Castle, which, coincidentally, was very close to the Scotch Whiskey Heritage Centre.
After the educational tour, I walked into the Whiskey Heritage Centre bar to taste some Scotch. I had already tasted a few on my tour through the highlands, but didn’t quite enjoy any. I had nothing else planned for the day besides wandering the streets (I had no idea what to see or do in Edinburgh in the days before blogs and social media), so I sat in the empty bar tasting reasonably priced single malts. I perused the list and descriptions, and asked the French bartender for suggestions.
The bartender was quite helpful and made the five hours of sipping Scotch in an empty bar enjoyable. We talked about our travels, and she tried to convince me that I shouldn’t visit France because it’s full of French people (that’s why she was working in Scotland).
I don’t know how many single malts I tried in those five hours, but I felt good enough for a night out afterward. Most importantly, I discovered Scapa, a single malt from Orkney that would become my writing Scotch.
A bottle of Scapa 12 year old was about $40. And that first bottle lasted me almost six months. I was surprised to find that it was sold in the US for about the same price.
I’ve only had four bottles of Scapa, and this last bottle has lasted nearly two years. Shortly after obtaining this bottle, I discovered that they no longer produce the 12 year old single malt. Now, they distill Scapa 16 year old, which is almost twice the price. It wasn’t difficult to justify spending $40 for a Scotch that would last for so long, but I find it difficult to spend nearly $80 (at least on my current budget).
This may be the end of my writing Scotch, but it won’t be end of my Scotch enthusiasm. I will go in search of a new writing Scotch. It’s been more than a decade since I set foot in Scotland; my return is long overdue.