A palpable sense of astonishment has overtaken a small but convivial crowd of whisky enthusiasts, assembled in Leith’s historic Vintners Rooms.
In fact, not since 2007, when the Taipei First Girls’ Senior High School marching band made its jaw-dropping entrance to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, has such a sense of profound shock overwhelmed a select Scottish gathering.
“Oh. My. God,” breathes Charles MacLean, author and whisky connoisseur, from behind his impressive moustache. “Is this an April fool?” Fellow panellists register the same amazement. Whispers of “unbelievable”, “incredible” and “oh no” reverberate around a bar which for more than 250 years housed a Scotch whisky warehouse.
This was the weekend finale of an exclusive blind tasting, and against all odds a selection of three-year-old Scotch whiskies have been beaten by a rank outsider, distilled not in Scotland, Ireland, nor even England. But in Taiwan.
More here: whisky. As a point of information, I witnessed the Taipei First Girls’ Senior High School marching band's performance at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The gals, all 150 of 'em, gave an "eyes right" as they left the arena, and it's a fact that they were all looking at me as they high-tailed it out of there.