I buy a bottle of the non-chill-filtered whisky at 46 abv. As in the Cadenhead's shop
in Campbeltown, you can pour your own bottle of whisky here from a cask set up in the
shop; they'll cork it and label it for you while you wait, which is a neat retailing idea
(Tommy Dewar would have been proud). There's no age stated on my bottle but obvi-
ously it can't be more than eight years old given that the place started up in 1995 and I'm
buying the bottle in 2003. It's a fresh, appley dram, sharply sweet with hints of peat and
wood. Positively refreshing, and it'll be fascinating to see how older expressions turn out.
The good ship Caledonian Isles lands me in Ardrossan (Cal-Mac ship, restaurant,
usual menu, late light baguette-lunch no longer filling tum, no evening meal arranged;
you guess the rest) and I head home. I've made such good time I'd have to kick my heels
for too long in Inverclyde before the card school starts, plus I've caught myself yawning
rather a lot already after my early start this morning and I'm not sure I'd be safe to drive
back later on tonight. Anyway I need to be up at a respectable hour tomorrow because
we're off to Orkney.
I've listened to my six CDs once by now and so channel-hop on the radio on the way
back instead, catching some government apparatchik wittering on about how they must
be winning the war against drugs because they're intercepting so many more shipments
these days. Oh good fucking grief.
Illegality: a thought experiment .
Okay, here's the scenario:
A kid, say ten years old or so, finds a tenner on the pavement. Or maybe they nick it
out of their mum's purse. Whatever. They go to an off-licence. They reach up, slap the
note on the counter and in a high, childish voice say, 'Bottle of vodka, please, mister.'
What? Nine out of ten? Nineteen out of twenty? Ninety-nine out of a hundred? (Ad-
just according to level of cynicism or outright experience.) Regardless of the exact pro-
portion, the vast majority of people behind the counter at an off-licence are going to tell
the kid to get out; they can't serve them. And most would say the same thing if the kid
asks for a packet of fags.
So the kid goes back onto the street, finds a dealer and says, 'Can I have a tenner's
worth of heroin, please?'
Again, we're probably talking nine out of ten, nineteen out of twenty or ninety-nine
out of a hundred. Except this time the numbers are reversed, and it's only one dealer in
ten, one dealer in twenty or one dealer in a hundred who would turn the child away and
not sell them what they've asked for.
So what is the best way of protecting our children, controlling mind-altering sub-
stances and ameliorating the damage to society caused by these things, given that the de-
mand is unarguably there?