How Scotch blends old and new to thrive in the 21st century
6:58

How Scotch blends old and new to thrive in the 21st century

Science
Speaker 1: Scotch is arguably the most iconic whiskey in the world. But how is this industry based on centuries of tradition remaining relevant in the 21st century? And how is it innovating to suit evolving tastes and changing climates, Scotland boasts one [00:00:30] of the world's longest and most well documented distilling histories, which can be traced back to 1494. It's a drink molded and shaped by the environment by the water that runs from the, by the Pete, in its BOS, by a climate that provides the perfect conditions for the spirit to mature. It's in the veins of the nation, fueling the local economy and forming the cornerstone of every celebration. Speaker 2: So Scottish whiskey for me is such an, [00:01:00] a massively evocative drink with one, you can be transported all over the country to different settings, to different seasons, to different times and memories in your life. And that that's certainly what I, I absolutely love about love about whiskey. Speaker 1: It would be easy to assume that with such an iconic reputation, the industry could largely rest on its laurels, but the rest of the world is snapping at Scotland's heels with distilleries in Japan, Taiwan, India, [00:01:30] New Zealand, and the us all producing excellent whiskeys with such fierce competition. Scotland can't afford to sit still. Fortunately it isn't, it's not in its bones to do so. The very nature of whiskey making means that distillers are accustomed to looking ahead. 18 20, 30, 2 years into the future. They know that when the whiskey they're currently putting [00:02:00] into casts for maturation comes of age, we will be feeling the effects of climate change will a keenly. And the conversation about sustainability will be at the forefront of everything to survive. The industry is evolving. New distilleries are appearing from Edinburg city center to the most remote Scottish islands. While researchers at Harriet, what university are experimenting with flavor profiles on a molecular level Speaker 1: Ancient grains that were previously phased out are [00:02:30] making a comeback. And some micro distilleries are toying with the idea of whiskey vintages rather than aiming for the year on year continuity. The big names are famous for to see how clearly dedicated this century's old industry is to modernizing without sacrificing its soul. You need look no further than McAllen. One of Scotland's top three producers of single malt founded in 1824. It's recently undergone a transformation with a new 140 million pound distillery. [00:03:00] This low slung glass building is technically a whiskey factory, a place of industry and work, but the glass steel and timber feels more like an exclusive spa or perhaps a bundler. The rip grass clad roof is designed to mimic the surrounding Hills, making it a building the not so much in the countryside as part of it McAllen's biggest priority in designing a distillery for the 21st century was considering the impact. The immediate environment water that's used [00:03:30] throughout the distilling process is now intensively treated afterwards to ensure it can either go back into the river bay or can be reused for cooling. Likewise waste product left over is sent to a local biomas plant and the energy is returned to the national grid Speaker 1: Around 18 miles south of McAllen on the Angus coast. The Arbi distillery is staking its reputation on sustainability [00:04:00] with a farm to bottle ethos. That's aiming to go further than net zero emissions by pushing back more than it's taking out, as well as whiskey RBS, making Jen and vodka, both of which have gained significant global attention for being climate positive. It's led by RBS master distiller, Kirsty black, whose PhD involved making spirits from PE unlike cereals peas don't require synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to grow and actively improve soil quality as [00:04:30] well as contributing to cleaner waterways air and soil. As part of its willingness to experiment. RB key has brought rye whiskey back to Scotland for the first time, since the late nine century Speaker 1: Hidden behind a multi-story car park in Edinburgh is the city's first vertical micro distillery called port of leaf. Currently half built. The distillery is climbing [00:05:00] up at lightning speed has Edinburg's port leaf is an area of Scotland with strong historic links to the whiskey trade. And just like our Bey, the hope for the port of Leh, DEC distillery is for it to become a hotbed of experimentation. The team has been working closely with Edinburg's Harriet, what university on developing new flavor profiles. And there will even be dedicated lab space inside the knee distillery for students at the university to continue these experiments. [00:05:30] The port of lets in a city setting precludes it from growing the grain it needs on site. So the distillery is partnering with a single farm just outside of Edinburgh for its Bali and will source its casks from and Portugal even producing its own label, Sherry and port as a result, Speaker 1: New and old distilleries are on very different whiskey making journeys that [00:06:00] present very different challenges for McAllen and other big distilleries maintaining consistency year after year, regardless of differences in weather requires intense quality control. The port of leaf distillery is treading a very different path by producing whiskey of different vintages in much the same fashion as wine production, a shared respect and admiration for whiskey is something that distilleries big and small have in common. It's the lifeblood of Scotland providing work for [00:06:30] families for generations and the distilleries, the farms, and the cooperages making the casts by hand. It's a remind that while the artist skill and passion makes scotch whiskey, the drink that's known and loved by millions around the world, it needs both old traditions and new ideas in order to thrive in the 21st century.

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