By: Amara Tamborini
For hundreds of years, pubs and taverns have played a central role in the culture and social life of the United Kingdom. When it rains for a majority of the year, it only makes sense that a great deal of gatherings occurred inside taverns. They were used as gathering halls where the working class could get a drink after a long day of work, where intellectuals exchanged ideas and theories, where gamblers rolled the dice and even upper class held banquets and soirees. Taverns were used to meet a diverse set of social needs, but ultimately, they were places where people could get a clean and safe drink. Back in the day before modern filtration systems were developed, it was safer to brink a glass of beer than water due to the lack of sanitation and clean water. The brewing process that is necessary to produce an alcoholic beverage eliminated a large portion of bacteria that lived within the drinking water, making beer and liquor safer and more popular to consume. The desire for social relations and safe drinks created a culture that was highly dependent on pubs.
The heavy use of pubs is still very much a part of the culture in the United Kingdom today. In Scotland, naturally the drink of choice is Scotch Whisky. Today we visited the Scottish Whisky Experience and got a taste of Scotland’s traditional drink. Though it may have been safer to drink than water, it is also safe to say that scotch is not my drink. The water of life nearly sent me to my grave after one sip. Though my palate may not have been mature enough to appreciate the taste of a fine aged whisky, it was very interesting to learn what goes in to the brewing process. While on the tour, I learned that Scotch whisky is one of the United Kingdom’s top fie export earners. About 90% of the scotch is exported overseas. Of what remains in the U.K., about 15-20% is sold and consumed in Scotland. The Scottish Whisky Experience houses the worlds largest and most expensive whisky collection. The priceless collection has been growing for the last forty years since the 70’s and now hold over 3,400 bottles of whisky. Though the size and value of his collection was impressive, I was more impressed that someone actually loves scotch that much, if even at all, to collect thousands of bottles on a drink that burns your throat. Hopefully I didn’t disappoint Ron Burgundy too much today!