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BOOZE LIKE US? THERE'S DRAM FEW; TV STAR ON WHISKY AND INDEPENDENCE.

Byline: Steve Hendry

Actor David Hayman reckons Scotland's amber nectar could be the key to a successful independent Scotland.

The 65-year-old travelled around Scotland and other parts of the world for a new BBC documentary series about the reach of the whisky industry.

He tracks its rise from the bothies to a multi-billion-pound international industry.

Countries such as Japan and Australia now rival Scotland for its coveted crown.

Hayman - who campaigned for independence during the 2014 referendum - wants to see the industry thrive and more of its profits to remain in Scotland.

He said: "It started off 400 years ago with a wee illegal still behind a croft in a misty glen in Scotland and now it's one of the biggest The future is bright, the industries in the world - a multibillion-pound industry which covers the world. There are now 30 countries that make whisky. It's incredible.

future is amber "We have got eight distilleries on Islay. That's a tiny wee island. And Scotch whisky sends almost PS1billion to the Exchequer every year.

"In an independent Scotland, that money would stay in Scotland - it wouldn't go to Westminster. I'm all for that. Why should it go elsewhere? "Drink and food make more money for Scotland than oil and gas. That's a hard fact. Add in tourism and we are an extremely rich country.

"But interestingly, the reason we went to Japan and Tasmania for part of the film is that they are winning all the whisky awards.

"We're not on a hiding to nothing but have to make sure we keep up our standards.

"However, I think Scottish whisky will always prevail because it is the original. You can't disassociate whisky from the Scottish culture, history or personality, which I love. That will always make it unique."

Scotch! The Story of Whisky begins on BBC2 on Tuesday at 9pm.

The series comes after the sale of a rare bottle of 1937 Glenfiddich whisky for a record PS68,500. It was bought by a bidder in the Far East and, as Hayman discovered making the three-part series, the Japanese owe their own whisky industry in a large part to Scotland.

He said: "Masataka Taketsuru came over to study in Scotland, fell in love with whisky and a Scots woman from Kirkintilloch.

"He went to Springbank in Campbeltown, among other distilleries, and asked, 'How do you make this stuff?' He then said to his wife, 'Let's go back to Japan.' They created the Nikka distillery in Sapporo.

"When I talked to the Tasmanian whisky distillers, they say they couldn't have done it without the help and support of the distillers in Scotland. There's great camaraderie, great support and help and advice given. So, we are responsible for it in more ways than one."

Hayman, who stars alongside Tom Hardy in upcoming BBC period drama Taboo, also revealed whisky owes a debt to American prohibition and gangsters such as Al Capone.

When Irish distilleries refused to send whisky to Canada, the Scots grabbed the opportunity.

He said: "Prohibition helped a hell of a lot. That was the first time they really had an overseas expansion and the Americans snapped it up.

"At the back end of that, you've got the guy who took over suitcases of Macallan whisky and went into a bar and said, 'Try that on your customers.' He then went on to the next bar.

"Macallan is now the biggestselling Scotch whisky in America and they are investing PS100million in a new distillery on Speyside. The future is bright, the future is amber."

The actor - who shot to fame playing Jimmy Boyle in A Sense of Freedom and starred in Lynda La Plante's long-running crime series Trial and Retribution - first tasted whisky from his father's glass at Hogmanay when he was a teenager.

For the documentary, he tasted rare and expensive malts but insists the series is not about glorifying drink and more to do with appreciating the industry.

Hayman said: "We are relishing the beauty and the richness of the whisky culture to our country and the importance of it."

The future is bright, the future is amber

CAPTION(S):

LIQUID GOLD Rare 1937 whisky fetched PS68,500 last week

DISTILL GAME David Hayman, left, and, above, with a whisky still on his new programme
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Oct 9, 2016
Words:716
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