takes five US barrels to make four hogsheads each with a capacity of 56 imperial gallons.
Hence a lot of the bashing and banging, I suppose.
And it's a legal requirement in the US that bourbon barrels are only used once, not just
some purist whim or tradition. I immediately start to formulate a mild conspiracy theory
to account for this perversity. I mean, if Scotch benefits from being kept in old bourbon
casks, why shouldn't bourbon itself? Why not at least experiment with second- and third-
fill bourbon? Treating these labour-intensive barrels as effectively disposable seems just
plain wasteful. I bet a smidgen of research would reveal that it's all a bit of, semi-appro-
priately, pork-barrel politics; this law will have been passed because some timber mag-
nate had entire forests of oak to shift and got the law passed to help make this happen.
I'm wrong. It later turns out that it's a rare, if dubious, instance of a victory for Amer-
ican organised labour; the US unions sponsored the law so that there would be more
employment for their coopers. I find this quite heartening, though what real differen-
ce it makes that the Scotch industry has benefited from a depending-how-you-look-at-it
slightly daft law promoted by some probably not terribly left-wing US unions rather than
some megalomaniac forestry owner or seedy cartel of timber conglomerates is debatable.
Craigellachie the town is home to the Craigellachie Hotel (well, if you're going to
have a Craigellachie Hotel, that would seem the logical place to put it), whose Quaich Bar
offers 500 different malts. A couple of execs from the Japanese Hankyu department store
who visited the hotel thought the bar was so impressive they had an exact copy construc-
ted in Tokyo for the November 2002 British Fair. They even had one of the bartenders
flown out to staff it. So there you are; Scottish bars travel well too.
The fine weather continues. Speyside looks wonderful, and the distant glimpses of
the snow still hugging the peaks of the Cairngorms just adds to the beauty of this warm,
early spring. The three of us enjoy using the M5 on these Moray roads. The A95, when it
opens again, is a good, open, quite fast if moderately busy highway, and the surrounding
smaller roads are quieter, twistier and rollingly scenic, diving and looping through forests
and small towns, past fields dotted with dozens of tiny lambs.
It occurs to me that maybe when it comes to roads I'm too much of a mountain snob,
a remoteness junkie. I suppose I associate the best, most rewarding driving with a degree
of verticality, or surrounding emptiness. I kind of dismiss the A9 because it's so busy
and relatively boring - and frustrating, with its heavy traffic and still limited bits of dual
carriageway forever collapsing back to two-way - and I rarely drive it these days except
where I have no choice.
When heading from Fife to Glenfinnan I have a sort of parallel route that avoids the
A9 all the way up to Glen Garry, where there is a good long bit of dual carriageway; this
alternative route takes a good half-hour longer than using the A9 the whole way, but it's
just so much more interesting to drive. Then, every now and again, when I do take the