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Issue 06 – Corpus Christi 2021

Historia Ecclesiastica

Eight Bols of Malt

On Scotch whisky.


There has aye been a romantic association between the stiff peaty dram and the Catholic identity here in Scotland. Indeed, whisky has long been understood as currency in the Scottish Highlands and the islands, providing joie de vivre in the mild summers and warmth in the harsh winters. However, the dram’s association with ecclesiastical history is rather difficult to explain.

Today, the association is a product of what we might call the “Outlander effect,” after the popular television program, by which anything and everything that might be vaguely identified as “Scottish” is made integral to our identity. Thus Scottish cultural nationalism begets Jacobitism, and Jacobitism begets all sorts of cultural fancies that may not have been entirely historically popular: kilts, whisky, Scots bonnets, Bonnie Prince jackets, popery. But we ought to be skeptical of kitsch and (more to the point) of reducing the faith to another cultural touchstone for television writers.

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About the author

Jamie McGowan