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Auld Lang Syne

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Since my last post, we entered 2013.  I wish all my good friends and members of Single Cask Nation a happy and healthy year.

As a company, Jewish Whisky Company has come a long way in a very short time.  So, too, has our Nation.  Joshua, Jason and I set out a couple years ago to become an independent bottler of fine, single cask whisky.  At the turn of the year, with the delivery of our first bottles of whisky to our members, we are, in fact, an independent bottler of fine, single cask whisky!  Moreover, our Nation is taking shape, and it is developing into a close-knit virtual community, just as we had hoped it would.  It is almost surreal to see our vision come to fruition.  We have much more planned, but suffice to say that we are already setting about the work of making 2013 a great year to be a member of Single Cask Nation!

In honor of the new year to come, and of the year past, with all its accomplishment, I have resolved to delve deeper into the heritage of whisky.  New Year’s is a time for remembering, and I will examine the personified memory that whisky can elicit.

* * * * * *

One aspect I find so seductive about whisky is the history of it all.  It comes as no surprise to me that the Scots are among the most prodigious and finest producers of whisky. Just taking in a dram of fine Scotch whisky fills the senses with a respect for time and place.  But even more, it speaks of the pride of craft shared by a guild of fellows who have labored for many generations to perfect and protect the spirit spouting forth from their stills and the golden-brown whisky issuing from long-rested casks.  Scotch whisky announces itself boldly, even as it drips with a teary reverence for its past – for its heritage – just like the hearty but sentimental people who produce it.  It is hard to not fall in love with Scotland after falling in love with its national spirit.

Every year we experience a display of Scottish pride in their heritage.  Traditionally, the celebration of Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve, Scottish-style) culminates in the singing of Auld Lang Syne at the stroke of midnight.  So powerful a sentiment does this song evoke, that it spread throughout the British Empire, and to the English-speaking world.

Taken in part from an ancient Scottish lyric that was handed down through the generations only in song until first put to pen by Scotland’s national poet-hero, Robert Burns, this song poses a question: Should we not recall the old times reverently?  The name of the song translates literally to “Old Long Since,” which in rough colloquial paraphrase is “Long, Long Ago,” “Days Gone By” or “Old Times.” (Wikipedia).  Thus, the lyric “For auld lang syne” translates loosely to “For (the sake of) old times.” (Id.) Here is an English-translated version of the song that I found on Wikipedia:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and old lang syne ?


CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we'll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.


And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!

and surely I’ll buy mine!

And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.


CHORUS


We two have run about the slopes,

and picked the daisies fine;

But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,

since auld lang syne.


CHORUS


We two have paddled in the stream,

from morning sun till dine;

But seas between us broad have roared

since auld lang syne.


CHORUS


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!

And give us a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll take a right good-will draught,

for auld lang syne.


CHORUS


Actually, for a laugh, here is the last stanza of the Scots version originally penned by Robert Burns:


And there’s a hand,

my trusty fiere!

and gie's a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,

for auld lang syne.


When we joined the Nation, we joined the fraternity of keepers of the history of fine whisky.  We seek to walk in the footsteps of Robert Burns and his countrymen, who have provisioned the world with some of the finest whiskies ever tasted.  We might yet become a part of that story, writ large across the ages.  Along our whisky journey together, we can all adopt the spirit of Auld Lang Syne.  If we’re all Irish on St. Patty’s Day, then surely we can all be Scottish on Hogmanay.

To all my trusty fieres of Single Cask Nation, I wish you all a right gude-willy waught, for auld lang syne.  I have nae fookin cluegh how to pronounce what I just wrote, but the sentiment is there, nevertheless! 

Cheers and L’chaim.


Ref: Alexander Nasmyth’s 1787

Portrait of Robert Burns

(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

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