Food for Thought - Charles MacLean (Whisky Writer)

Food for Thought - Charles MacLean (Whisky Writer)

Breakfast is a quart of strong coffee, drunk through the morning, which is when I do my best writing. Whisky tasting begins at midday – your nose is much better before lunch than after. But, hey, when the samples are as good as the ones in front of me today – a 1972 Old Pulteney, a 25 year old Clynelish and a 30 year old blend – tasting is essential. Lunch is with friends in town. Favourites are Celadon on Causewayside (the best Thai food), the Dogs on Hanover Street (first rate comfort grub) and Petit Paris [now L’escargot Blanc] on Queensferry Street (real French cooking). The slow hours of the afternoon are devoted to admin and research, and in the early evening I may chair a tasting panel to assess single cask whisky samples. Supper is cooked by me, Mrs MacLean or by our middle boy (aged 15, the best cook in the family) usually with a glass of wine. Then bed at 9.30pm to read to youngest child.

Charles MacLean has published ten books about Scotch whisky. His most recent, Whiskypedia, will be published by Birlinn on 2 June ( As part of Homecoming, May 2009 has been declared ‘Whisky Month’.


1. Magwitch Wildebeeste30 Apr 2009, 10:25am Report

I hope Charlie checks in here because I have a few questions. If the rest of you lives up to healthy glow of your mugshot, you must must have a rigorous personal fitness regime. Do you favour any particular regime? Maybe one from foreign parts? You obviously favour alcohol. Would you write about tobacco? Might that depend on the fee available? Or can't you be bought? And finally: do you wax? (Your moustache that is, obviously.)

2. Alfred Barnard30 Apr 2009, 5:18pm Report

Is this really the Charlie Maclean I have known for so many years? In the wild days, after a wake-me-up skelp, we'd begin the day with a schooner of sherry and kippers (not too lightly seasoned) followed by a well-filled pipe or two, taking in world affairs from the learned pages of the West Highland Free Press. This was enough time for our man to prepare the first samples of the day, which we would normally attack around nine-thirty - time enough for the Brown Pigtail and kippers to work their magic on the palate. Strong coffee? I think this fellow may be a fraud!

3. Whiskymac30 Apr 2009, 6:14pm Report

Gentlemen! Ah, those grey mornings searching for St. Kilda! Remember the day started after the 6.00 am shipping forecast, so to start tasting at three bells in the forenoon watch, after (as I recall) kippers and sherry-laced OXO in the Sound of Harris, was no sin, and all according to the 24 hour clock, naval watches, etc.
You know about the foreign parts, Wildebeeste (or should I say 'Commodore')... And the rigours of exercise in same (particularly China). My regime is simple 'clean living', good company and the avoidance of speculators and usurers, as far as this is possible in these trying times.
You both know I favour a pipe of Rattray's Red Raparee to assist digestion of the WHFP, and a couple of ciggies with pre lunch/dinner libations, and a mature Cohiba post-prandial.
And as for waxing... Is this a trick question? No wax ever soiled my bush.
But it is good to hear from you both after so long. Have I been rehabilitated after the unfortunate affair of the gannet...

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