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WELCOME TO WHISKY TUNES

Many folks will say that single-malt whisky is an acquired taste. Many of the same folks might also say the same thing about Highland bagpipe music. There are still others who love, and are deeply passionate about both. In this, the two things share a similar character. But the similarities do not end there. The two things—bagpipes and malt whisky—are woven into the fabric of Scottish tradition. The development of each has moved side-by-side throughout Scottish history. Each is associated with celebration, sadness, and ceremony. Each can be infused with originality and artistry. Each of these things—Highland bagpipes and malt whisky—has influenced the other immeasurably.
 
Whisky Tunes is not an ordinary bagpipe music collection. In what is the first online, serial bagpipe tune book, Whisky Tunes offers bagpipers and traditional musicians new arrangements of vintage tunes inspired by Scotland’s famous spirit. A new tune will appear each week and take the reader on a journey through Scottish whisky-making and bagpiping history. The journey starts with the people and places of Scottish whisky, travels to the growing and harvesting of barley, to the brewing and distilling, and then to, yes, the drinking. Much of the collection is accompanied by researched notes on the tunes with some historical background. Read the Introduction to Whisky Tunes for an overview of whisky history in Scotland up to the early to mid-1800s and that history’s connection to the Highland bagpipes.
 
I believe each tune, no matter how small, has a story to tell. As this collection unfolds, I hope those stories will have a new voice. Many tunes that will appear have not been heard in more than a hundred years. These tunes capture the spirit and flavor of life as much as the flavor of a favorite spirit. These tunes, like good whisky, have been aging for a long time. It’s time for them to be bottled and served.
 
First tune of the collection appears November 3, 2015!

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Drops of Drink

Playing music and drinking whisky have moved hand-in-hand throughout Scottish history. Tunes commemorating the very shared, common experience of drinkingread more →

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The Drunken Piper

The exploits of pipers and musicians, generally, overindulging in drink is well documented and the stuff of legend. It’s naturalread more →

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The Drunken Wife

The exploits of pipers and musicians, generally, overindulging in drink is well documented and the stuff of legend. It’s naturalread more →

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Scotch Mary

The Mary mentioned in the title of this tune could easily be Mary Stuart, aka Mary, Queen of Scots, cousinread more →

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The Favorite Dram

This tune is the melody to an old drinking song/poem by the eighteenth-century poet Alasdair MacDonald. MacDonald was a passionateread more →

The Barmaid

Many Highland households distilled their own malt whisky for the their own personal use back in the eighteenth century. Tighterread more →
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Islay Smugglers

The wilds of the Scottish Highlands hid more illegal, unlicensed distilleries and pumped out more whisky in the eighteenth andread more →
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The Buckskin Kilt

Buckskin is simply the finished result of tanned deerhide. Old Highlanders were known to wear tartan on formal occasions, butread more →
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The Wort

This is one of several tunes marking the crucial first steps of whisky production. “Malt” is what barley grain isread more →
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The Maltman

This is one of several tunes marking the crucial first steps of whisky production. “Malt” is what barley grain isread more →
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Peat Reek

The smell of peat is almost indescribable. It’s a fair mix of dead animal and rotting fruit cooking in kerosene.read more →
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The Kiln Trough

The first stage of creating the “malt” of malt whisky involves spreading the harvested barley grain to soak in waterread more →
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The Grinder

Barley grain has been a dietary staple for Scottish Highland communities throughout the earliest recorded Scottish history. It was usedread more →
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Dewar’s Fancy

The Dewars were relentless and shameless marketers and keenly took advantage of the new industrial, capitalist age in which theyread more →