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What's in a name?

I came into the world of whisky not as a consumer but as a creator. I've been drinking whisky casually for a very long time, of course, but my real interest in the world of spirits began when I was hired as a distiller. So instead of an expensive bottle, my journey began with the clear aqua vita. So before I knew anything about cask types or maturation techniques, I knew spirit. I learned to love first the vibrant and temperamental distillate as it left our copper condensers. I learned to watch the stills with unwavering attention, to adjust temperatures and valves, to look for minute changes and take a hundred readings a day from a dozen gauges and tools. Coming from the platform of the stillhouse, whisky to me was not the quick pour of a dram to be drunk after dinner but instead a slow and careful process to be approached as such. In my early days of distilling I stumbled upon a quote in Primo Levi's The Periodic Table that got to the heart of this:

“Distilling is beautiful. First of all, because it is a slow, philosophic, and silent occupation, which keeps you busy but gives you time to think about other things, a little like riding a bike. Then, because it involves a metamorphosis from liquid to vapor (invisible), and from this once again to liquid, but in this double journey, up and down, purity is attained, an ambiguous and fascinating condition, which starts with chemistry and goes very far. And finally, when you set about distilling, you acquire the consciousness of repeating a ritual consecrated by the centuries, almost a religious act, in which from imperfect material you obtain the essence, the usia, the spirit, and in the first place alcohol, which gladdens the spirit and warms the heart.”

Levi was a chemist and so was not distilling only alcohol but he clearly understood my love of the art. He also understood my love of bicycles. So, to me, "Slowdrams" is about the slow enjoyment of whisky at every part of the process from biking up to the distillery, spending an afternoon watching spirit flow from the stills, looking inside barrels, or nosing and finally tasting. Cheers!


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