Scotch Series 42: Soul of the Land

One can live ON a landscape or live IN a landscape. The role of the whisky maker is to bring out TERROIR.

This concept of Anam an fhearainn – Soul of the Land – Terroir, reflects and contains a pride and a tradition. It is a way of living. Whisky is made as part of the daily existence of place and people. This mind set reflects a respect and a valuing of the specifics of place.

Whisky made like this contains positive vibes and energy that deepen and strengthen it. The very atoms of this whisky are harmonious and beneficial. Some call this folklore, some call it physics……

Distilleries grow out of relationships between features of location which inform and create human culture, traditions of that place. In a reciprocal relationship these cultures and traditions then shape and inform the landscape being inhabited.

To define place, first we can think about relationships between features of an area. We have geology, orientation of directions, altitude, weather patterns, flora, fauna, inhabited by humans or not, and myriad other concepts. One of the fundamental relationships is the contrast of water with land.  This dynamic is informed by which direction the land faces, the geology of the land mass, the shape of the land bordering the water ~ be it protected wooded inlets as on the southern side of Islay, or high, gull inhabited cliffs on the western face of the island.

Where does one place end and another begin? Where does Bruichladdich end and Port Charlotte begin? What concepts do we use to give limits to our defined area? We use civic boundaries, parish boundaries, physical boundaries. Boundaries are also decided economically. Boundaries can illustrate the edges of our power and influence.. Think of the story of Peter Mackie owner of Lagavulin, building a replica of Laphroaig’s still house and attempting to make whisky flavoured like Laphroaig’s at Lagavulin, only a mile down the road. He failed miserably….