By popular request and further inspired by the success of the ‘Gentleman’s Stiffener’ Speyside Malt Whisky Moustache Wax, I am delighted to introduce you to my luxuriant whisky-inspired ‘Gentleman’s Tipple Whisky Beard Oil’. Warmly spiced and a little nutty (not unlike my Right Hand Man) the scent of this opulent elixir is lavishly infused with the aroma notes of the Captain’s preferred wee dram, recalling nights by a glowing fire amid the golden glens and rushing rivers of the Highlands.
For those yet to acquaint themselves with whisky’s sophisticated pleasures, it might be of interest to note the word ‘whisky’ derives from the Gaelic of the Scottish Highlands, ‘uisge beatha’, or ‘usquebaugh’, meaning ‘water of life’. American chums will note the absence of an ‘e’, present in the American spelling of ‘whiskey’. This delightful discrepancy is the result of 18th century Irish immigration to the US of A, leading to the adoption of the Irish variant, for our shared language is so deliciously open to all manner and mood of playfulness.
Furthermore, back in the Scotch mists of time, 15th century monks perfected the subtle aromas and complex flavours of the distillers’ art to create a potent amber spirit, prescribed for medicinal reasons and believed to prolong and, indeed, to enrich life. For centuries whisky’s liquid fire has been a feature of Scottish life, a welcome to guests, a reviver of spirits in long grey winters and an essential toast to Scotland’s beloved bard Robert Burns whose poetic wit and warmth is celebrated across the world each year upon his birthday, 25th January. What better time to offer my new beard oil, inspired by the water of life, a veritable enlivener for those who are hirsute of face. Slangevar!
A Gentle Tale to accompany a Gentleman’s Tipple
And should you be in the mood for a story to accompany your haggis this evening, I beg your indulgence while I share a tale no less tall for it’s being absolutely true. The tale of Whisky Galore, which is not, but really ought to have been the name of a flame-haired Bond girl. I digress...back to the booze....
In February 1941 the SS Politician set sail from the bustling port of Liverpool bound for Kingston Jamaica and New Orleans. Amongst other items, the 8000 tonne cargo ship was laden with 260,000 bottles of fine whisky. Intended as it was for the American market, no duty had been paid. As the ship sailed past the Isle of Man towards the Hebrides a wild wind picked up and increased to gale force. Only two days out of port, the valiant vessel was seen to be in trouble by a young chap combing a beach in South Uist and the alarm was raised.
Meanwhile, Beaconsfield Worthing, the quite superbly named Captain, battled courageously to keep his ship afloat, however bested by the raging storm the SS Politician veered off course and ran aground on the sandbanks off the Isle of Eriskay where she began to flood. Local islanders sallied forth across the foaming waters to assist the crew until the Barra lifeboat reached the wrecked ship and rescued all on board. What a relief! Whilst awaiting said recovery, the locals had learned precisely what manner of cargo the ship was carrying and, racing to beat the customs and excise officers, secret salvage operations were immediately launched under cover of darkness. Wartime rationing had left the islands high and dry so news spread across the Outer Hebrides as far as the Isle of Skye. By all accounts the thirsty islanders had a simply splendid time availing themselves of a large quantity of aforementioned bottles of amber liquid before the ship was splintered by winter storms. This bounty from the sea they considered theirs by the rights of salvage and not a soul regarded it as theft.
However, Mr Charles McColl, the local customs officer was of a most decidedly different opinion and was incandescent with rage about the shameless stealing going on under his very nose. His complaint to the police led to raids all over the islands and what couldn’t be hidden was consumed at once. The police, being locals themselves, were somewhat lenient and sentencing for the criminal capers was mild. Meanwhile, back at sea, efforts to salvage the wreck weren’t proceeding well and McColl who estimated over 20,000 bottles had already been removed was given permission to blow up the ship. Islander Angus John Campbell was heard to exclaim “Dynamiting whisky. You’d wouldn’t think there’d be men in the world so crazy as that!” Quite so, dear chap, quite so.
Today, the remains of the SS Politician still lie off the coast of Eriskay. In fact Donald MacPhee, a man of South Uist, found 8 bottles in the wreck and auctioned them for £4,000 in 1987. If any of this sounds familiar, you’d be absolutely right as the true story was used by Compton Mackenzie for his book Whisky Galore, and later for the beloved Ealing Studio comedy of the same name, recently remade with Mr Eddie Izzard as the furious customs officer.
And thereby ends my tale. Charge your glasses for a toast to the water of life!
NOTE: Whisky Beard Oil available in two sizes: