Now that we seem to be slowly moving beyond the ugly shadow of COVID-19, people are starting to think about overseas travel once again. If you are planning to journey to Ireland or Scotland here are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to head down the whiskey/whisky trail.
If you visit a distillery or two or six along the way and decide to purchase a sampling to bring home, I suggest selecting one that is not available at home. Why cart a heavy fragile bottle around on your travels if you can conveniently purchase the same thing at your neighbourhood liquor store? I make a point of sampling those that are not readily available at home and purchase one of those.
Another thing to keep in mind is the duty on any alcohol you plan on bringing home. Generally, you are permitted one 750 ml. bottle per adult traveller without having to pay import duty on your return home. I have the advantage of my wife not being fond of whisky so I get to choose a bottle for her to bring home as well.
Never go into a pub in Scotland and ask for a “Scotch”. If the server is polite he or she will simply stare at you with a blank look on their face. However, they are as equally likely to respond with a cheeky “Scotch what?” or something more sarcastic. Scotch whisky in Scotland is simply referred to as “whisky”. Instead, ask for a whisky, or better yet, check out the selection and order it by name. With 130 distilleries in Scotland the selections available will often vary by the region you are visiting.
The same holds true in Ireland where all whiskey is Irish whiskey. Save yourself a ribbing and order your choice by name. When in doubt you will find that most pubs in the Republic of Ireland will have Jamison’s, pronounced ‘Jămĭsŏns’, or if you travel to Northern Ireland Bushmill is a safe bet to order.
My father would not be very happy with me but I prefer Irish pubs over their Scottish counterparts. To me they are much livelier and the people less reserved and more friendly. The pubs in both countries are full of character and natural charm.
Finally, there seem to be many more beer options in Ireland than in Scotland though Scottish whisky options far exceed whiskey choices found in Ireland. However, I am not going to weigh in on the Scotch Whisky versus Irish Whiskey debate as to which is better. I like both; my preference is determined by my mood.