Whisky, yer the divil!

The LA Times today has a review of a new book on the happiest subject of them all:

He evokes the whisky-sodden world of the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment; you wonder that Edinburgh, a city where everybody downed half a cup of whisky promptly at noon (a bell was rung), produced so many important writers and inventors.

The 18th century attitude, MacLean writes, "is summed up by a story about a group of gentlemen who had been drinking together in a club in Glasgow. They had been at it for several hours when it was noticed that one of the number had been keeping quiet for some time. 'Whit gars Garskadden luk sae gash?' (What makes the laird of Garskadden look so ghastly?), asked the laird of Kilmardinny. To which Garskadden's neighbour replied, 'Garskadden's been wi' his Maker these twa hours; I saw him step awa', but I dinna like to disturb gude company.'"
A half a cup of the pure each noon? I get about that much yearly these days, but I can certainly appreciate the concept. Perhaps when I've retired.

The author does have the right attitude about it:
Because whisky was long considered a medicine, the Scots often added spices and other supposed medicinal ingredients to it, along the line of tonic liqueurs like Chartreuse. MacLean mentions an 18th century recipe that added mace, cloves, cinnamon, nuts, coriander, cubeb peppers, raisins, dates, licorice, saffron and sugar to what was probably perfectly good Scotch to start with.
'With Scotch, mix only water -- and that, only in an emergency.' Just so.

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