Whisky talks lift the lid on distilling history

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Campbeltown Library hosted a whisky-themed evening last Tuesday, September 10, tying in with its Lifting the Lid exhibition, celebrating 400 years of food and drink in Scotland.

The well-attended whisky event featured talks by renowned local author Angus Martin on his new booklet, A History of Glen Scotia, and by Glen Scotia Distillery manager Iain McAlister about whisky production, for which Campbeltown is world-renowned.

A library spokesperson said: ‘Both talks were extremely informative and well received, as were the tasting samples very generously donated by Glen Scotia.’

The Lifting the Lid exhibition, created by the National Library of Scotland, was on display in Campbeltown Library from September 4 until yesterday (Thursday September 18).

It is on tour throughout Scotland and has moved to Lochgilphead after which it will continue on to Oban and Helensburgh, before ending its stint in LiveArgyll libraries in Rothesay.

The display celebrates Scotland’s changing relationship with food and drink, and explores the myths and traditions associated with the Scottish diet.

Several display boards offer information and historic recipes for soups and broths; oatmeal and bread; fish and shellfish; meat, poultry and game; drinks; desserts and baking; and jams and preserves.

There was also a game which asked people to match Scots words with images of foods – are you familiar with cushie doo, snashters, partan and gullie?

Did you know that despite Scotland’s extensive coastline, early Scots ate very little fish and, until recent times, most people didn’t each much meat – and those who ate copious amounts tended to be wealthy?

Desserts and cakes were almost unknown before the 19th century, until sugar became more widely available. However, keen to use up as much of each ingredient as possible, Scots have always been partial to soup and broth.

Of course, mention was made of Scotland’s relationship with whisky – the first version of which was apparently made in monasteries as herbal tonics and medicines – alongside milder drinks like water, tea and coffee.

Campbeltown Library shared some of Kintyre and Argyll’s own food and drink heritage to the exhibition, in the form of two cabinets filled with culinary artefacts, on loan from Campbeltown Museum and Campbeltown Heritage Centre.

The exhibition, which was visited by some school classes, proved very popular.

October is the Scottish International Storytelling Festival so a storyteller will be visiting the Campbeltown Library on October 24.