Complete Caledonian Imbiber, The [Radio Scotland]

Episodes

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01Bottled Poetry20171121

Billy Kay celebrates the Scottish contribution to the wines of Napa Valley.

In The Complete Caledonian Imbiber, Billy Kay celebrates the Scots drouth for fine wine across the centuries, from the "fresche fragrant clairettis" described by the court poet Dunbar in the 16th century, to the Scots making luscious Cabernet Sauvignons in California's Napa Valley today.

In the first programme Billy follows in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson who visited "the long green strath" of Napa Valley on his honeymoon in 1880 and discovered wine there which he described as "bottled poetry". Like RLS Billy tastes wine in the cellars of Schramsberg, and visits the vineyard of one of the Scots pioneers in Napa - Colin McEachran from Greenock.

Mr. M'Eckron's is a bachelor's establishment; a little bit of a wooden house, a small cellar hard by in the hillside, and a patch of vines planted and tended single-handed by himself. He had but recently begun; his vines were young, his business young also; but I thought he had the look of a man who succeeds. He hailed from Greenock: he remembered his father putting him inside Mons Meg, and that touched me home: and we exchanged a word or two of Scots, which pleased me more than you would fancy.

The influence of RLS is still evident in California and Billy visits the museum devoted to him in St Helena, speaks to Tom Thornton in Calistoga who uses Stevenson's writing to market his wine at The Grade Cellars and to Colin MacPhail a Scottish wine cosultant to vineyards in the area. Billy also discovers a coterie of younger Scots wine makers in Sonoma and Napa today who continue the tradition celebrated by RLS: Andy Smith at Dumol in Sonoma County, Steve Law at Maclaren Wine in Sonoma and and Robin Akhurst at Apsara Cellars.

02Knee Deep In Claret20171128

Billy Kay celebrates the history of Scotland's other national drink, claret.

In 1994, Billy Kay made a 4 part series called The Complete Caledonian Imbiber, which celebrated the Scots drouth for the great wines of Europe. The first programme in the archive series, Knee Deep in Claret recounts the history of the red wine of Bordeaux called claret which once bound Scotland and France so closely, it was called the bloodstream of the auld alliance. Billy has written extensively on the subject in his book with Cailean Maclean, Knee Deep in Claret. Here is a flavour.

Ever since the fifteenth century when the Scots fought alongside their Auld Allies to remove the Auld Enemy from their last toehold in south-west France, there has been the underlying suspicion that we were only there for the claret. For one of the long term rewards bestowed on us by the grateful French was the granting of privileges in the wine trade which gave us status and commercial advantage over other nations. A peeved Englishman of the Elizabethan period reluctantly explained the "special relationship" the Scots enjoyed: "Because he hath always been an useful confederate to France against England, he hath right of pre-emption or first choice of wines in Bordeaux; he is also permitted to carry his ordnance to the very walls of the town." The practical result of this was that while the English had to surrender their arms when entering the Gironde, apply for passports, and be subject to curfews, the Scots sailed blythely up river to get the pick of the new vintage at reduced rates, and head home in time for Hogmanay! The Scots official privileges lasted until Colbert, showing no sentimental attachment to the land of his ancestors, withdrew them in the 1660's.

03Let Them Drink Port!20171205

Billy Kay celebrates the Scottish contribution to the great fortified wine, Port.

In 1994, Billy Kay made a 4 part series called The Complete Caledonian Imbiber, which celebrated the Scots drouth for the great wines of Europe. In this, the third programme of the archive series Billy travelled to Oporto and the Douro to celebrate the Scottish contribution to one of the world's great fortified wines, Port.

Port did not get off to a good start in Scotland after the Union, when Jacobites and cultural nationalists drank claret as a symbol of Scots independence, rather than succumb to the "politically correct" English favourite, Port. The national standpoint was expressed in rhyme.

Firm and erect, the Caledonian stood
Old was his mutton and his claret good.
Let them drink Port! The English statesman cried,
He drank the poison and his spirit died.

John Home, politically far from being Jacobite, wrote that epigram, proving that the country was united in seeing claret as a symbol of Scottish identity.

Port however gained a toehold in Scotland following the Peninsular War of the 19th century, and young Scots with names like Cockburn, Dow, Graham, Gould, Campbell and Sandeman flocked to the Douro and sold wine home to their countrymen, who were developing a taste for it.

The Grahams. For example, whose vintage port is renowned among the cognoscenti, came into port by accident. A textile and dry goods firm in Glasgow, they had already firmly established factories in Bombay, Lisbon and Oporto when, in 1820 a bad debt accrued in the latter city. The only asset the debtor had was liquid so a consignment of port was reluctantly sent to the Clyde. Once they overcame their initial shock and anger, the head office discovered to their surprise that they couldn't sell enough of the stuff and so they ordered more!

04Bend Weel Tae The Madeira20171212

Billy Kay tells the story of the Scottish contribution to sherry and Madeira wine.

In 1994, Billy Kay made a 4 part series called The Complete Caledonian Imbiber, which celebrated the Scots drouth for the great wines of Europe. Here Billy travels to Spain and Portugal to tell the story of the Scottish contribution to Sherry and Madeira wine

Here is a flavour from Billy's book The Scottish World:

"Jerez, Cadiz and Malaga had supplied the Scots with wine since medieval times, so it is not suprising that a number of families put down roots in Southern Spain and traded in the local wine with the homeland. There was never an extensive Scots community in Jerez, as there was in Oporto, but a few kenspeckle figures left their mark. The Sandemans branched there from Oporto, and became equally famous for their sherry as their port. By the time the Sandemans arrived though, an Ayrshireman, Sir James Duff was already established in the trade, sending wines home to Oliphants of Ayr as early as 1767. He brought his nephew William Gordon into the firm and the name Duff Gordon is still to be found on some wonderful bottles, though the owners of the brand today, Osborne, only use the historic Duff Gordon name in certain markets.

One of the wines shipped by James Duff to Ayrshire was Malaga, sometimes called Mountain, and hailing from the hilly region inland from that coastal resort. It was obviously extremely popular for it entered the folk tradition of the area. When Robert Burns was devoting his time to Scots songs, he wrote a letter to Mrs Dunlop in 1788 which contained the following lines of one he had just collected. .

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never thought upon
Let's hae a waught o' Malaga
For auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne my dear
For auld lang syne
Let's hae a waught o Malaga
For auld lang syne.

04Bend Weel Tae The Madeira20171212

Billy Kay tells the story of the Scottish contribution to sherry and Madeira wine.

In 1994, Billy Kay made a 4 part series called The Complete Caledonian Imbiber, which celebrated the Scots drouth for the great wines of Europe. Here Billy travels to Spain and Portugal to tell the story of the Scottish contribution to Sherry and Madeira wine

Here is a flavour from Billy's book The Scottish World:

"Jerez, Cadiz and Malaga had supplied the Scots with wine since medieval times, so it is not suprising that a number of families put down roots in Southern Spain and traded in the local wine with the homeland. There was never an extensive Scots community in Jerez, as there was in Oporto, but a few kenspeckle figures left their mark. The Sandemans branched there from Oporto, and became equally famous for their sherry as their port. By the time the Sandemans arrived though, an Ayrshireman, Sir James Duff was already established in the trade, sending wines home to Oliphants of Ayr as early as 1767. He brought his nephew William Gordon into the firm and the name Duff Gordon is still to be found on some wonderful bottles, though the owners of the brand today, Osborne, only use the historic Duff Gordon name in certain markets.

One of the wines shipped by James Duff to Ayrshire was Malaga, sometimes called Mountain, and hailing from the hilly region inland from that coastal resort. It was obviously extremely popular for it entered the folk tradition of the area. When Robert Burns was devoting his time to Scots songs, he wrote a letter to Mrs Dunlop in 1788 which contained the following lines of one he had just collected..

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never thought upon
Let's hae a waught o' Malaga
For auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne my dear
For auld lang syne
Let's hae a waught o Malaga
For auld lang syne.

05The Craiter and Reamin Swats20171219

Billy Kay celebrates the history of ale and whisky in Scotland.

In 1994, Billy Kay made a 4 part series called The Complete Caledonian Imbiber, which celebrated the Scots drouth for the great wines of Europe and the native tipples, ale and whisky. Here Billy celebrates the rich history of ale and whisky in Scottish society, and the convivial tradition of poetry and song.

Does whisky really have the strongest claim to be Scotland's national drink, or Is it "an uncouth Highland arriviste" compared to the red wine of Bordeaux called claret? Which beers were called Scotch Burgundies? Why is Belgium home to a traditional Scotch ale? Did "the pith o'broom" added to the ale of a famous Edinburgh brewster wife in the 18th century give her beer hallucinogenic properties? Did the creation of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in 1983 herald a revolution in whisky drinking where the balance shifted away from blended to malt whisky? The Society's pioneer Pip Hills talks about the original cask of Glenfarclas that Kay and others poured into flagons and shared in Pip's Edinburgh New Town home back then. What exactly were the "reemin swats" Burns refers to in Tam o' Shanter? All of this and more will be revealed here, and celebrated in great tunes like Neil Gow's "Farewell to Whisky" played by John Martin and great drinking songs such as Allan Ramsay's "Todlin Hame" sung by Rod Paterson.

05The Craiter and Reamin Swats20171219

Billy Kay celebrates the history of ale and whisky in Scotland.

Billy Kay celebrates the Scottish contribution to the wines of Napa Valley

In 1994, Billy Kay made a 4 part series called The Complete Caledonian Imbiber, which celebrated the Scots drouth for the great wines of Europe and the native tipples, ale and whisky. Here Billy celebrates the rich history of ale and whisky in Scottish society, and the convivial tradition of poetry and song.

Does whisky really have the strongest claim to be Scotland's national drink, or Is it "an uncouth Highland arriviste" compared to the red wine of Bordeaux called claret? Which beers were called Scotch Burgundies? Why is Belgium home to a traditional Scotch ale? Did "the pith o'broom" added to the ale of a famous Edinburgh brewster wife in the 18th century give her beer hallucinogenic properties? Did the creation of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in 1983 herald a revolution in whisky drinking where the balance shifted away from blended to malt whisky? The Society's pioneer Pip Hills talks about the original cask of Glenfarclas that Kay and others poured into flagons and shared in Pip's Edinburgh New Town home back then. What exactly were the "reemin swats" Burns refers to in Tam o' Shanter? All of this and more will be revealed here, and celebrated in great tunes like Neil Gow's "Farewell to Whisky" played by John Martin and great drinking songs such as Allan Ramsay's "Todlin Hame" sung by Rod Paterson.

05The Craiter And Reamin Swats2017121920171224 (RS)

Billy Kay celebrates the history of ale and whisky in Scotland.

Billy Kay celebrates the Scottish contribution to the wines of Napa Valley

In 1994, Billy Kay made a 4 part series called The Complete Caledonian Imbiber, which celebrated the Scots drouth for the great wines of Europe and the native tipples, ale and whisky. Here Billy celebrates the rich history of ale and whisky in Scottish society, and the convivial tradition of poetry and song.

Does whisky really have the strongest claim to be Scotland's national drink, or Is it "an uncouth Highland arriviste" compared to the red wine of Bordeaux called claret? Which beers were called Scotch Burgundies? Why is Belgium home to a traditional Scotch ale? Did "the pith o'broom" added to the ale of a famous Edinburgh brewster wife in the 18th century give her beer hallucinogenic properties? Did the creation of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in 1983 herald a revolution in whisky drinking where the balance shifted away from blended to malt whisky? The Society's pioneer Pip Hills talks about the original cask of Glenfarclas that Kay and others poured into flagons and shared in Pip's Edinburgh New Town home back then. What exactly were the "reemin swats" Burns refers to in Tam o' Shanter? All of this and more will be revealed here, and celebrated in great tunes like Neil Gow's "Farewell to Whisky" played by John Martin and great drinking songs such as Allan Ramsay's "Todlin Hame" sung by Rod Paterson.

06Homage To Catalunya, Aragon And Arbikie20171226

Billy Kay meets Scots wine makers in Spain and visits a farm distillery in Angus.

Billy Kay celebrates the Scottish contribution to the wines of Napa Valley

In the final episode, Billy Kay travels to Aragon and Catalonia to meet Scottish winemakers making a name for themselves there and here. Norrel Robertson from Forfar makes renowned Garnacha wines from grapes picked in his remote hilltop vineyards near Calatayud. There the scent of wild mountain thyme imparts a distinctive fresh bouquet to grapes in this cradle of the Grenache wine grape which went with the Romans to France. Norrel is a Master of Wine - one of only 385 in the world, so it was a pleasure for Billy to taste wines with someone with his knowledge and passion. Pamela Geddes from Bridge of Allan makes sparkling red and rosé wines in her Bodega in the Cava producing area of Penedés. Pamela takes Billy through the hands on process which makes sparkling wine the unique product it is, with every bottle is handled at least seven times by the winemaker. Pamela admits that she is hooked on bubbles, and loves her work.

And Billy brings the story of our love for strong drink up to date with a visit to the farm distillery at Arbikie in beautiful Lunan Bay in Angus, which grows all of its own ingredients to make gin, vodka and malt whisky. Iain Stirling's family have been farmers in Scotland since the 17th century. When Iain and his two brothers sought to diversify, they were delighted to find that their farm at Arbikie had distilled malt whisky back in the 18th century. They grow their own barley, and their first batch of Arbikie malt Is slowly maturing now in cask, but Billy was able to taste their potato vodka and Kirsty's gin - which uses kelp, carline thistle root and blaeberries which grow between the distillery and the sea down below.

Billy Kay meets Scots wine makers in Spain and visits a farm distillery in Angus.

In the final episode, Billy Kay travels to Aragon and Catalonia to meet Scottish winemakers making a name for themselves there and here. Norrel Robertson from Forfar makes renowned Garnacha wines from grapes picked in his remote hilltop vineyards near Calatayud. There the scent of wild mountain thyme imparts a distinctive fresh bouquet to grapes in this cradle of the Grenache wine grape which went with the Romans to France. Norrel is a Master of Wine - one of only 385 in the world, so it was a pleasure for Billy to taste wines with someone with his knowledge and passion. Pamela Geddes from Bridge of Allan makes sparkling red and rosé wines in her Bodega in the Cava producing area of Penedés. Pamela takes Billy through the hands on process which makes sparkling wine the unique product it is, with every bottle is handled at least seven times by the winemaker. Pamela admits that she is hooked on bubbles, and loves her work.

And Billy brings the story of our love for strong drink up to date with a visit to the farm distillery at Arbikie in beautiful Lunan Bay in Angus, which grows all of its own ingredients to make gin, vodka and malt whisky. Iain Stirling's family have been farmers in Scotland since the 17th century. When Iain and his two brothers sought to diversify, they were delighted to find that their farm at Arbikie had distilled malt whisky back in the 18th century. They grow their own barley, and their first batch of Arbikie malt Is slowly maturing now in cask, but Billy was able to taste their potato vodka and Kirsty's gin - which uses kelp, carline thistle root and blaeberries which grow between the distillery and the sea down below.