Islay, a Very Tasty Idea: Inventing, Embedding, and Selling Tradition in the Contemporary Scotch Whisky Industry
In this chapter, I examine the articulation of Scottish traditions as a medium for the production, marketing, and consumption of Scotch single malt whisky. While on the surface they may seem quite separate, my goal is to link up nationhood, geography, tourism, and industrial production through the interests of contemporary market capitalism. I am particularly interested in how “traditions” or “history” regarding “Scotch” unfold at drinks corporations in relation to inherent tensions between local activities and the global political economy into which they place their products. The chapter is based empirically on long-term, if periodic, fieldwork in Scotland, with visits to Scottish whisky distilleries and their local communities. Here I particularly emphasize the whisky industry on the beautiful island of Islay, in the Inner Hebrides, home to eight distilleries that, between them, arguably produce the greatest Scotch whiskies in the world.
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