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Why Angels and Thieves

It’s never easy to choose a name for a new business, a child or even a whisky blog. For the latter, you need to consider the style and tone you hope to adopt and, to some extent, you are at the mercy of what domain names may be available. I eventually chose Angels and Thieves as it seems to me that both have a long relationship with the whisky industry.

We all know of the ‘Angels Share’ (approximately a 2% spirit reduction by volume per year as a cask matures). Perhaps no-one would be surprised if this phrase had developed as the ‘thief’s share!’ It is, however, a somewhat comforting thought that some benign, unseen and unverifiable influence is being exerted upon the production of our preferred spirit. If it helps us to think of this as the influence of angels, then all’s well and good. Having visited a number of distilleries, but not yet them all, I am aware that at some establishments there are clearly angels walking amongst us. They entertain us with their tours; help us to enjoy our drams and generally keep us happy and informed.

I will most likely return to the subject of the Angels Share, and in particular the relevance of temperature, in future blog entries.

I have often heard the valinch, that large pipet which is used to draw samples of spirit from the cask, referred to as a thief. This again seems a little unfair as no sooner is the spirit taken before it is given away again. Often to me!

However, throughout history and in all sectors of society, (not just distilleries), humanity seeks to gain an advantage by taking what is not theirs. There are many anecdotes related to unofficial profit sharing schemes in the maturation warehouse. Many are heavily romanticised and are on a par with outwitting the bailiff to take a salmon ‘for the pot’. The similarly romantic notion of the illicit still continues to captivate me and I think a proportion of the population may have no real issue with depriving the excise man of a little of his ‘duty’. I feel this topic may provide a few interesting blog posts in the months ahead.

I hope you can see how the above random and unstructured thoughts led to the name ‘Angels and Thieves’ being arrived at. Please have a look at www.angelsandthieves.co.uk or follow on Twitter at @SQFangels.

Edinburgh, UK