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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lifting the spirit - moving Scotch whisky by train

Lifting oneself up or lifting one’s spirit means remaining cheerful, enthusiastic, optimistic and happy…. There are many modern theories which provide words of wisdom for inspiration and for keeping oneself in a cheerful mood with positive attitude ~ but the roads may no longer flow with spirits though……!!

Can you imagine that a wholly Govt owned Company started with a paid up capital of Rs.15 crores controls one industry which has so much of movement that Insurers would make a beeline for insurance, though it could be loss-making for them.  Tee-totallers in my list have no say on that … it is TASMAC – the  Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Limited  which is vested with the exclusive privilege of wholesale supply of IMFL for the whole State of Tamil Nadu. TASMAC was established in 1983 by then Chief Minister M. G. Ramachandran (MGR) for wholesale vending of alcohol in Tamil Nadu. The state has a long history of prohibition, first implemented in 1937 by the Indian National Congress government of C. Rajagopalachari; now it being a great revenue earner, perhaps no Govt would venture to think of prohibition.   

Miles away, Scotland  is a country that is part of the United Kingdom sharing its border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east. Edinburgh, the country's capital and second-largest city, is one of Europe's largest financial centres. Aberdeen, the third-largest city in Scotland has  the title of Europe's oil capital.  Scotch is an adjective meaning "of Scotland" ~~ the word "Scotch" is only applied to specific products, mostly food or drink, such as Scotch whisky, Scotch pie, Scotch broth, and Scotch eggs. "Scotch" applied to people is widely considered pejorative, reflecting old Anglo-Scottish antagonisms.

Strathspey is the area around the strath of the River Spey, Scotland; it is one of the main centres of the Scotch whisky industry, with a high concentration of single malt distilleries in the region. Scotch whisky, often simply called "Scotch", is malt whisky or grain whisky made in Scotland. Scotch whisky must be made in a manner specified by law. All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Any age statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky, expressed in numerical form, must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product. A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed-age whisky.

The term ‘lifting spirit’ is in news albeit with different connotation…  it is stated that Scotch Whisky producers are trialing a system to deliver Scotch Whisky by train from Speyside to central Scotland in a bid to cut emissions and trucks on roadways. The area covered by the trial is home to 77 distilleries, which produce 85 percent of all of Scotch malt whisky, according to Richard Lochhead, the Scottish government’s cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the environment.

Currently all bulk Scotch Whisky and spirit is moved by road from Speyside to warehouses and bottling halls across central Scotland. The “Lifting the Spirit” project is designed to reduce trucks on busy roads, test an alternative transport option for the expanding Scotch Whisky industry and assess the benefit to the environment, the Scotch Whisky Association says.  Reports suggest that the first  0f the trains transporting Scotch Whisky will leave the Elgin goods yard in Speyside this week. The association says it’s the first time there has been any substantial volume of goods, including Scotch Whisky, transported by train from Elgin since the mid-1980s. Work completed by the Network Rail, with some Scottish Government funding, to improve the train route and facilities around Elgin has made the project possible. So barrels of scotch will not flow by rail rather than by road.  

The "whisky train" will make its first winding 200-mile journey this week from a goods yard in Elgin to Grangemouth, where it will be distributed to bottling halls and warehouses across the central belt. For every journey, it is calculated 29 lorry trips will be saved, with the A9 among roads to benefit from a reduction in traffic. Trains will run twice a week with plans to use the return journey for deliveries of other goods such as malt, barley and empty bourbon casks to hold the next batch of spirit. The trains are being brought on track by the Lifting the Spirit project which, over two months, will be analysed by an academic to determine its long-term potential.

Is it really a spirited news lifting you up !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

19th Sept. 2013.

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