The Scotch Malt Whisky Society commissioned this poem to celebrate our national tipple. As I'm usually more of a wine-drinker, it was necessary to undertake a considerable number of research trips into a wide variety of Edinburgh pubs.

A Recipe for Whisky

Wring the Scottish rain clouds dry;

take sleet, the driving snow, the hail;

winter twilight; the summer’s sun slowed down

to pearl-sheen dusk on hillsides, city-roofs,

on lochs at midnight.

And, most of all, take the years that have already run

to dust, the dust we spill behind us . . .


All this, distil. And cask. And wait.

The senselessness of human things resolves

to who we are – our present fate.

Let’s taste, let’s savour and enjoy.

Let’s share once more.

Another glass for absent friends. Pour

until the bottle’s done.


Here’s life! Here’s courage to go on!

from Without A Backward Glance (Barzan Publishing, 2005), © Ron Butlin 2005, used by permission of the author

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