Centenary Exhibition

The Scotch Whisky: From Grain to Glass exhibition was devised to mark the Centenary of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the industry trade body.

The exhibition, displayed in The Scottish Parliament's Main Hall in Edinburgh and the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, explored the history of the Scotch Whisky industry.

Every aspect of the Scotch Whisky industry was portrayed through words and images. The exhibition, which was free to visit, took people on a journey through the distilling, coopering, maturing, bottling, labelling, enjoying, marketing and exporting of Scotch Whisky.

The exhibition brought together for the first time an array of images and artefacts from many Scotch Whisky producers and enthusiasts. Many items on display had been stored in archives and personal collections and had never been seen before by the public. The exhibition also tracked landmark events in the last 100 years which have shaped the SWA and the industry.

Scotch Whisky's rich past was showcased, highlighting its position as an iconic Scottish product and demonstrating how vital Scotch Whisky is to the country's economy and society.

It explained how the "What is Whisky?" debate of the early 20th century helped establish the modern day Scotch Whisky industry. Illustrated through a series of rare postcards, visitors will learn how the 1909 Royal Commission on Whiskey and other Potable Spirits decided that only grain and malt whisky produced in Scotland, or a blend of both, could be called Scotch Whisky. This beat off the threat of distillers in Ireland who refused to blend grain and malt whiskies.

Artefacts and images on display included a mini pot still, mash tun and spirit safe, a reproduction of the Illicit Highland Whisky Still painting by Sir Edwin Landseer, 19th century maps of railways which served distilleries, coopers' tools, classic advertising and promotional campaigns, old films, bottles from different decades, recipes for Blended Scotch Whisky from 1912 and much more.

A striking artefact standing proudly in the marketing area of the exhibition was a full size fibre glass white horse. It illustrated the White Horse brand of Scotch Whisky which is popular in many global markets. The brand has a long history, stretching back to the late 19th century, and is named after the White Horse Cellar Inn which still stands in Edinburgh's Canongate.

Also featured in the exhibition were the people who make Scotch Whisky. Visitors could hear maltsters, coopers, master blenders, marketing professionals and many other employees talking about their skills and passions in recordings made especially for the exhibition.

During the exhibition, and as part of the St. Andrew's Day celebrations at the Parliament, a live coopering demonstration took place. The event was very well received and as an interactive show, gave the public a chance to try their hand at this traditional and demanding craft.