Friday, 09 September 2016

Radio Review: 9 September

Turning water into whisky, plus a crime writer supreme

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-colour-176A few months ago, I found myself in The Briton’s protection in Manchester, one of the best pubs in the world, ordering an english whisky. Yes, you read right. An english single malt, distilled in Norfolk, and at a shade under 60% abv, it was warming to say the least.

So, the Food Programme’s (Radio 4, sundays, 12.30pm) merry little half-hour on the growth of small new distilleries all over the british isles piqued my interest. When the Glasgow distillery company opened in 2013, the city had, perhaps surprisingly, been without a single malt distillery since 1902.

As with beer, the quality of the water is paramount. Rachel Mccormack asked Liam Hughes of the distillery where he got his. It obviously isn’t as simple as turning on a tap, she suggested. As it happens, for Hughes, it is. Glasgow has taken its water straight from Loch Katrine since the 1850s, and it turns out to be perfect for whisky.

Staying north of the border, it was spiffing to hear Scottish crime writer Val Mcdermid in conversation at some considerable length with Jonathan Ross on the Radio 2 Arts Show (Thursdays, 10pm). It’s so good to hear Ross, always a fine, irreverent interviewer with an intelligence that is sometimes obscured, given more space to stretch out than he has on TV. Having guests of the quality of Mcdermid helps a great deal too, obviously. One of my bugbears is the word ‘feisty’, as it’s only ever used to describe women, usually with negative connotations. Talking about the clichés and quirks of fictional detectives, Mcdermid delighted by revealing that it comes from a middle english word meaning to break wind. ‘We’ve had the singing detective,’ she said. ‘Now I bring you the Farting Detective.’

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email:

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