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Postby Iain » Wed Nov 13, 2002 12:33 pm

Does anyone know when "Speyside" was introduced as a term denoting a Scotch whisky producing region? I had assumed it was in the 1880s (as a term adopted in place of the old industry classification, "Glenlivets"), but there's a Macallan 1841 bottle advertised on www.macallan.com that clearly describes the whisky as a "malt whisky of Speyside". So I must be mistaken.

If Alfred Barnard is still among us, could someone wake him up and ask him? It's certainly a question for someone with his long (if rather addled) memory.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Nov 13, 2002 1:32 pm

Hi Iain,

It makes sense that the Macallan bottle 1841 stated to be a Speyside whisky.
Perhaps we should have to go further in time, the time that whisky was officialy legalized in 1823, and The Macallan, The Glenlivet, Aberlour etc. got the offical permit to start distilling on a legal basis in 1824. I think that 1824 is a date where the official term Speyside must have begun? Or maybe it was the 1840's, because in that time some more distilleries where build in that area, and the railroad of the Great North got extended more East bound. After the second wave, you got the third wave of distilleries and the final wave at the 1880's and that's where the popularity for the Speyside had begun, until the 1900's when it all ended...

Perhaps The Speyside got it's offical name between 1824 and the 1840's. Yes, where's Alfred Banard when you need him the most???


Alfred Barnard
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Postby Alfred Barnard » Sat Nov 16, 2002 12:04 am

Dear Ian, HuUrman, Reader and Gentlemen,

I don't believe you need me to answer your vain questions, and if you did I'm sure my factual keepsake would be removed from this place by the forces of darkness (or am I going senile?).

However - for anyone who has the ability to read (limited - it seems in this day and age - from which I tire so greatly) I suggest you simply count the number of times I describe, in my seminal publication (if I may call it thus) whiskies from what might generally be called the Morayshire district, as 'Speyside'. Now, as the 'Voice of the Trade' I may, as they say in your day 'know nothing' - so - you know-it-alls - go and look at journals such as my beloved Harpers, or the other multiplicity of Trade newspapers of the time for which I and other pens-for-hire-hacks of the time wrote, and simply see how many times writers, the press, or the Trade for that matter, used the phrase 'Speyside' in the years up to around 1890 or 1900 (years of my late refound youth!).

Tell me the answer - oh complacent and ill-informed ones!

Then your friend (and mine) Ian can be at rest ...


Alfred Barnard (now in rehabilitation)

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Postby lexkraai » Mon Nov 18, 2002 2:06 pm

Good to see you back, old man! When are you going to tell us more about your upcoming book? Surely you'd want us all to buy a copy?

Slainte, Lex

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Postby Iain » Mon Nov 18, 2002 4:15 pm

Wheesht. Patience, Lex. Don't confuse the old codger with your whippersnapper questioning. I was first!

But I notice he answers my question about Speyside with questions of his own, the cunning old devil. Do you imply, my venerable and crusty friend, that there were no Speyside whiskies in the 1840s? I did find a reference to Speyside in your seminal publication, but fell fast asleep before I could find another.

It is indeed the very epitome of somnumbalent style!

Alfred Barnard
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Postby Alfred Barnard » Sun Nov 24, 2002 11:35 pm


Understand that at my advanced age years fly by like days, and days like years, so sometimes it is so difficult for me to keep apace with you digressions and diversions.

Yet I find it sad that so many of you choose to dwell on (dare I say it) trivialities such as 'what did I drink last night', ‘how big is mine’, or ‘where can I get it cheaper’. Alas and alack, not what I’d hoped for when I began the pioneering spirit of whisky journalism so many years ago.

Even more so when young Iain (for I presume he is such) has raised such a tendentious issue that seems to be lost on so many of your virtual correspondents. As ever – I have no answers – but merely a plea for all of you to think about the question that this young man has asked and take it seriously.

And yes – for what its worth, I acknowledged in my first whisky book (but Lex, by no means my best, as the world will soon learn) that the Macallan was, in its configurations similar to other ‘Spey-side Distilleries’, for it is loosely, beside the Spey. But its malt, when I wrote, was Highland Malt, known in the trade and by (as I believe you all call them today) ‘consumers’ as such – for unless I am mistaken, the designation ‘Speyside’ derives from a much later time.

But then, you can find this all out for yourselves, if only you have the sense to be interested!

Now – its late, I’m tired, slightly irascible (I apologise for my irritation above) and working on printer’s wet-proofs for the great tome.

I must away!

Alfred Barnard (Booker Prize winner 2003, tbc)

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