Not sure if purring cats napping on the barrels make spirits taste better but I noticed many whisky distilleries are home of our favourite four-legged little friends.
As cute as it may sounds, for centuries, cats were not only idle souls wandering through the barrels but real shadow workers of distilleries, their main tasks including hunting mice and birds which could cause real damage to the barley. They were then described as true whisky protectors !
However (some would say “unfortunately” and others “for the best”), machinery and innovation have now replaced trusty cats within most of the distilleries but they have remained an important figure, often becoming a real mascot.
Peat (Unfortunately dead last year), from Glenturret Distillery, was a real PR worker !
“The contemporary distillery cat is becoming more of an ambassador,”
says author and food journalist Brad Thomas Parsons.
Parsons explains that this is a perfect marketing device. Cats are inherently photogenic.
“I haven’t seen any one-eyed cats or very curious cats” in the distilleries, he says. “From tortoiseshell to white to black to tuxedo to marmalade to ginger — when you have a cat sleeping on a bourbon barrel or curled up in the rafters, it’s a good picture. It’s a good image all around.”
Everyone taking a tour of your distillery posts a photo of the cat on Facebook or Instagram, and voila! Free advertising.
The practice is now widespread on both sides of the Atlantic !
From 1963 the position of resident mouser at Glenturret Distillery was held for almost 24 years by Towser, a long-haired tortoiseshell female, who had a remarkable mouse-catching career — so remarkable, in fact, that she is at Guinness World Records as the world’s best mouser. She died in 1987, and her life and exploits are fondly commemorated by a bronze statue at the ‘Famous Grouse Experience’ visitor centre on the Glenturret site.
Don’t know about you, but the combination of whisky and cats would be close to my definition of heaven…