From the Scotsman comes this interesting news:
LOVERS of a wee dram may soon be raising a glass to cutting-edge DNA fingerprinting techniques being used create a Scottish “superbarley”.
Scientists at the forefront of barley crop genetics are using the sort of profiling methods associated with criminal investigations in a bid to ensure the long-term sustainability of whisky’s raw material and increase production of the national drink.
What’s it about?
There are two crops of malting barley sown each year in Scotland: spring and winter. Currently, all whisky uses the spring crop; it’s supposed to be the better quality. However, the winter crop has a higher yield and is sturdier. Given fluctuating weather patterns and increased demand, the scientists want to identify the genes that give the spring crop its good quality, and breed these genes into the hardy winter crop. As the article says: “This will help guarantee barley supplies for malting and boost production of Scotland’s liquid gold.”
But what I found even more fascinating was this detail from the article:
The latest figures from the Scotch Whisky Association show annual exports of the water of life were worth £4.3 billion last year. In volume terms, overseas sales rose by 2.5 per cent to the equivalent of 1.23 billion bottles. Overall, the spirit accounts for about 85 per cent of Scottish food and drink exports and nearly a quarter of the UK total.
No wonder they are looking at the future of whisky. It is as important as ever in the economy of both Scotland and the UK. Every time I have a dram, I’m doing some good by supporting those economies!
I’ll drink to that, but now it’s going to have to wait till after Pesach…