My patience has been sorely tried by your jestings and childish humours. But you must confess I have done my best to engage with your trivialities.
But now I must ask you for something, as I gather you position yourselves as the self-appointed experts of the magnificent world of malt whisky.
For my forthcoming book I have need to revisit, in an ethereal sense, all the malt-whisky distilleries in Scotland. And so, virtually, I have tried to do. Old faces have passed, new characters are to be found, and also the most excellent improvements.
But at one distillery, Teaninich, which I only hurried through when I visited before taking a train from Dingwall, I have seen a most unusual device in the Mash House.
Dear Sirs, you must know about this - and pray, therefore, what is it?
Yours gentlemen (and my sweet ladies goodnight),
A somewhat dazed and confused,
I'm afraid you will have to be a bit clearer as to what kind of 'unusual device' you refer to. What may be unusual to Victorian eyes may be completely familiar and trivial to those from the 21st century ....
A 'forthcoming book' sounds exciting for sure! Would you care to expand on your plans?
What was it, that you have seen, with your victorian eyes, in the "Mash House"?, was it the electrical light, or was it the Mash-Tun it self that looked so strange to you, or perhaps a modernized wort-cooler, or did you have seen a computer for your first time???
It has frighten you, for that I'm sure, because your reaction seems to be a panic one
If you read my works closely you will learn that I was neither surprised by electric lights, nor by novel or ingenious mechanical devices in distilleries.
Indeed I have always been (or should I say was) a great enthusiast for excellent devices and cleverly conceived mechanisms and inventions, be they for use in distilleries or breweries, whilst still of course treasuring the quaint and the picturesque.
But the view of the Mash Tun at Teaninich, which I would urge you to seek out, has confused me – never have I seen such a marvelous machine as this. But pray – exactly what is it?
With best wishes and fondest regards,
You have such an interesting name, and I'm sure a sound mind, but if you had seen the photograph (or was it an etching?) that I have seen, you would have noticed that this is a Mashing Machine with no rakes!
Please give me whatever assistance you might, as I would hate my new book to be inaccurate...
That is interesting, because the photo I have seen of Teaninich's mash tun HAS rakes! Please be so kind as to tell me the source of the photo you refer to.
And, sir, you must tell us more about the upcoming book you keep mentioning, but also hold hidden in the shrouds of secrecy in such a tantalising manner!
As always, yours,
It does not seem appropriate to mention here another place in this ethereal network where you can see the photograph (or is it a hand-coloured ethcing?) to which I refer. But unless I have dreamn't it in my long hours of sleep I do believe it exists, and I'm sure you can find it too.
Believe me Sirs, not a rake in sight - a most wondrous mechanical invention, worthy of inclusion in my new great work.
Methinks this is just the sort of thing you need to include in your new book, Mr B, if you are to maintain the lofty standards of tedium you set in your last great ouevre.
Desist please, or I shall wake that terrible Cor fellow from his slumbers and set him about your ears with his shabby and tedious tales. No doubt you remember 1994 when we shook his spiritually sodden soul awake in the hope of some brief enlightenment about the way the bolls of malt were turned to aqua vitae so many centuries ago? And what did we get instead? Him staggering about in his filthy habit bragging of his filthy habits. No interesting account of the shape of the stills or the nature of the storage bins and casks, just endless bluster about the many young serving wenches he claims to have deflowered behind the stables at Lindores.
I think you would deserve each other well young Alfred. Him with his liver the size of an Aviemore curling stone regaling you with lascivious accounts of the pleasures of a dram, and you boring the tonsure off him with loving accounts of the square footage of the Cragganmore malt kilns. I can imagine the mutual agony, but I will of course, be in far-distant haunts at the time.
Because every time I attempt to read it, my toes curl.
But tell me: does the Highland gout also make one yearn for the blessed relief of sleep?
[This message has been edited by Iain (edited 22 March 2002).]
I do remember my toes curling, but only after tripping too lightly to too many strathspeys during harvest-home at The Dell, and perhaps after a dram or so of whisky punch to settle good Mrs Macintosh's rice pudding. But if young Alfred's weighty tome causes you to russell your toes with such singular effect, may I suggest that you read instead the poems and songs of Mr Burns. A charming rogue, sadly with the same predilections as the dreadful friar, but with such pretty words one must be amused.
I confess myself somewhat taken aback by the tone and inference of some of your recent remarks.
Is this really the place to speculate in such an ill-informed manner on the libidinous larking of the libertine of Lindores? Indeed, if I might beg to pose a question to one of such grand opinion, yet perhaps such impoverished information, how, dear Lady, are you possessed of the knowledge that said licentious lobate resided in that place? Could this be intelligence granted only to one of such aristocratic (albeit of a thoroughly junior nature) pedigree – not vouchsafed to such humble journeyman of the Trade as myself?
And are you trying to suggest, my Ladyship, that I should be shamed by my less than noble vocation? That I should not feel pride, nay delight, in the legacy that I have left behind me? A delight shared by so many, who hearts have sung, for example, to the lyricism of my description of the beauty of the Ochills, drowned in sun, pouring down its golden light upon those famous hills, bringing out in bold relief each crag and pinnacle, before turning to admire the sparkling river Devon, immortalised by The Poet whose name you also so foully abuse?
And from thence to Cambus – where I captivated my readers with picturesque descriptions of the huge compressed dreg-sediment shed, the commodious Grist Lofts, the German Yeast manufactory, the powerful, almost visceral pumps, huge water-wheel, and the six prodigiously massive boilers.
This is poetry such as The Poet would have understood it – verse for the common man of trade - I confess not for the anti-democratical minds of the lower aristocracy such as yourself.
With that Madam,
Alfred Barnard (RIP)
Sir, you sing your own song so well and strong; how could any of us dare to join you? Your self-sure melody canting high and loud, a tenor boastful and lacking in harmony -- who would sing your chorus?
Dear Lady Elizabeth has offered a beautiful tune, yet rather than join her in mingled duet, you shrink from her and cry your lament just as the Roasting Swan ... all about you ... poor you ... Have you, like Master Mozart before you, sung your own Requiem? Can't the hant abide awhile longer in spritual company the best to be imagined?
Dear, Old Barnard, do give your voice a wee rest while our dearly departed Lady sings once more her fine tune ... beautiful, and her's, 'tis true, but with welcome tone for others to sing along, or be simply enraptured. Then, Sir, sing with her, and listen for the quiet accompaniment of our chorus.
Yes, Sir, do not yet 'depart', as you say, but stay and make harmonious music with the earthly and the spiritual dimensions.
A lover of song --
I must confess that I cannot, much as I try, understand a word of what you write!
Have you possibly imbibed a little too much laudanum with your Laphroaig, a whisky, which if I recall correctly was of exceptional character, a thick and pungent spirit with a peculiar peat reek flavour? How appropriate.
But Sir, if it is birdsong that you desire, then go and fly with the larks.
Here, as I understand, gentlemen discuss whisky.
Yet with all the dimensions of time and space at your disposal you appear still to wear the blinkers of an earth-bound cart horse. This forum is for gentlemen to talk about whisky, is it indeed? How Victorian, and surely that is what we both were when corporeal, so I understand your premise. But you must have been aware that in the Highlands, decent gentlewomen began the day with a dram. And when my dear father called for Glenlivet whisky to sate that unpleasant monarch, it was to me the message was sent, and my pet bin that was rifled.
As for that lout Cor, it is understood he was a Benedictine, resident at Lindores Abbey in Fife. Mr Craig's record of Scotch Whisky - a volume almost as great in girth as yours - acknowledges that to be so.
You are upset that I called Mr Burns a rogue? Houghmagandie is an uncouth Scots word for an uncouth practice, but both a word and pastime favoured by the bard none the less. He boasted of giving poor Jean Armour a thundering scalade on a bed of dry horse litter, and her within days of labour. Such bravado is abominable, but I have only to read his gentle words to Mary, sleeping by the sweet Afton, and all is forgiven.
Let Alfred go St. Peat, let him go. He reacts to me with the misogyny of a man scorned, and I do believe he once set his cap for Calliope, or maybe it was Euterpe, but was unrequited. A pity, Urania with her globe and compasses would have smiled graciously on him.
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