BBC explores Scotch and Sherry linksBy Owen Bellwood
The BBC will broadcast a documentary about Scotch whisky this weekend, focusing on the trade routes used in the spirit’s production, its popularity in China and close ties to Sherry.
Made on Earth: Whisky will air on BBC World News this weekend and takes an “in-depth look at the Scotch Whisky trade”.
Presented by Babita Sharma and Finn Aberdein, the programme is the sixth episode in the eight-part series. It was filmed in Scotland and features Tamdhu distillery.
Aberdein said: “The Scotch episode was really about specialisation – how Scotland’s economy is so closely tied to this one product and yet has such a global reach. Most episodes saw us visit two or three locations to tell the story, and this one took the team not only to Speyside and Shanghai, but also to Jerez in Spain where they make the Sherry casks.
“I think it’s incredible how small towns in Spain and Scotland come together to create this unique product. To me, the whole series is full of surprising nuggets, illuminating facts and unexpected discoveries that help paint the broader picture and reveal the shifting trends of global trade, as well as introduce us to lives of the people behind the products.”
Aberdein, who grew up in Orkney, said that it was while filming the programme that he visited a distillery for the first time, and that he hopes the episode will “unpack the mysteries of just how this incredible drink comes together”.
As well as the trade routes essential to Scotch, the latest episode in the Made on Earth series will also explore the popularity of Scotch whisky in China.
“Seeing just how passionate the drinkers in the Shanghai bar were about Scotch brought home to me the global appeal,” said Aberdein.
“They knew a lot more about whisky than I did, and had a very personal relationship with their preferred dram – the heritage, the story and the prestige were all important.”
Scotch is the only spirit explored in the series, but Aberdein said if there was to be a second series he would be interested to explore baijiu.
“It’s the hardest of hard liquors, it’s got a fearsome reputation, and it’s massive in China,” said Aberdein. “It lubricates business deals in the country – people say that a banquet with copious rounds of baijiu is the best way to gauge a potential business partner’s true character – I know this, having survived a few heavy sessions myself.
“So, as China reaches out to trade ever more on the world stage, will its drinking culture go with it – and will the rest of the world develop a taste for the fiery tipple?”
Made on Earth airs on BBC World News every week at 2.30am and 8.30am GMT on Saturdays and at 2.30pm and 9.30pm GMT on Sundays. Audiences can also visit www.bbc.com/madeonearth for special features, and @BBCFuture on Twitter for the latest from the series.