TIP: S6E11 "Achub Y Morfilod"
A lot of elements of Archer have to be taking with a certain level of disbelief. The timeline being one thing that people love to debate and figure out, even though it is inherently unsolvable. The world they live in is not the one we live in, just like Springfield isn’t based on any real towns. Another issue, though less frequent, is that of geography. Some people noticed it during the San Francisco car chase that Archer ends up on the Golden Gate Bridge on his way from Berkeley to downtown San Fran. By looking at a map, you can see how impossible that would have been in real life. It was definitely way more iconic to drive down the Golden Gate and didn’t really interfere with the telling of the story. Especially if you don’t know the geography of the bay area.
Tonight’s episode has a similar leap of geographical faith, that will be apparent to many of our UK watchers. I won’t go into too much detail about it, but I will just say that Archer says that something is much closer to him than it really is. We’re going to entertain the idea, by covering a spirit that is made in the region that we have to assume he was talking about, based on its geographic proximity to him.
I’m not gonna dance around the punch line for this weeks TIP, but I will offer some details soon. For now, know that this week, you’re drinking:
LOWLAND SINGLE MALT WHISKY
Anyone who knows much about Scotch whisky knows that a lowland single malt is a rare breed. Not because it is difficult to make whisky in the lowlands, or that it’s a small region, or that the lowlands don’t like drinking. The reason that single malts are rare in the lowlands are twofold: One reason is that most of the malt distilleries have closed down in this region, under various circumstances, mostly relating to various swings in popularity of whisky world wide over the decades, causing them to go bankrupt. The other reason it’s difficult to find malt distilleries in the lowlands, is due to the geography of the area. As is obvious by it’s name, the lowlands are low in a few ways. It’s the southernmost of the whisky regions of Scotland, and it’s also the least rocky, with it’s soft rolling hills, rather than steep cliff faces to the more mountainous north. These factors lead the lowlands to be a bit like the bread basket of Scotland. The region grows lots of grain for all sorts of reasons. But since they’re growing lots of corn and wheat and rye, as well as barley, their distilleries tend to make use of all those products as well. We’ve talked about it before, but in order to be a single malt Scotch, you need to be 100% malted barley. So if you’re making whisky out of corn, even if it’s 100% corn, it won’t be labeled “single malt”. The few distilleries left in the lowlands still make copious quantities of spirits, but due to it’s make up, much of it gets sent to other parts of the country to get used in blended whiskies, which can contain various amounts of spirits from various grains (there are various classifications to delineate between a blended scotch that has corn and barley, versus one that is a blend of several different barley spirits.)
To my knowledge, there are only 6 distilleries making single malts in the lowlands today (correct me if I’m wrong about that).
The most widely know is likely Auchentoshen (Ok-uhn-tosh-en). The second largest being Glenkinchie. The smaller and newer brands are Daftmill, Ailsa Bay, the recently revived Bladnoch, and the whippersnapper, Annandale, which opened in 2014.
I’m going to let someone else describe the general characteristics of lowland malts, because I’ve only had one of em and I don’t know how to talk about flavor profiles. My words dont’ work good.
The Lowlands produces gentle, light whiskies, often very dry and devoid of peat. Lowland whiskies are commonly referenced as feminine drams, ‘the Lowland Ladies’. Most of the whisky regions of Scotland, and indeed the world, there can be some crossover. For example, it is quite possible to produce a heavily peated whisky outside of Islay or the Highlands, simply distilling peated barley can facilitate that.
The Lowlands is different in this respect, where the method of production differs; Lowland whiskies are triple distilled. Though this does occur elsewhere - of course, Springbank triple distills Hazelburn - it is best known and most commonly practiced further south. The region is bordered by the Highland Line to the north and sits neatly atop England. There is no peat used and there is not a great deal of local peat. There is little salinity in the whisky, for the operating Lowland distilleries are all sited inland. Auchentoshan is quite possibly the best known. The Rosebank and St Magdalene distilleries have produced delightful whiskies. (source)
Again, the fact that Archer is drinking a lowland scotch is actually debatable, but it makes the most geographic sense considering what he says in the episode. So if you'd rather have a dozen drams of Laphroaig or Highland Park, go for it, and take this TIP with a pinch of salt. Not literally though. Do not put salt in your Scotch. Seriously.
Toast. Double duh.