One for the road at The Last drop in EdinburghHome >> Experiences
The «Last drop» pub on the Grassmarket in Edinburgh, Scotland, is where men sentenced to hang for such horrible crimes as stealing a pair of boots or being a Protestant were taken to have their last meal while they prepared the gallows across the road. Just before leaving the pub they were given a last whisky, 'one for the road' as it was called.
Sir Walter Scott, Scotland's most distinguished writers, recalls how executions were prepared just opposite the pub:
«It was the custom, until within these thirty years or thereabouts, to use
this esplanade for the scene of public executions. The fatal day was
announced to the public by the appearance of a huge black gallows-tree
towards the eastern end of the Grassmarket. This ill-omened apparition
was of great height, with a scaffold surrounding it, and a double ladder
placed against it, for the ascent of the unhappy criminal and
executioner. As this apparatus was always arranged before dawn, it seemed
as if the gallows had grown out of the earth in the course of one night,
like the production of some foul demon; and I well remember the fright
with which the schoolboys, when I was one of their number, used to regard
these ominous signs of deadly preparation. On the night after the
execution the gallows again disappeared, and was conveyed in silence and
darkness to the place where it was usually deposited, which was one of
the vaults under the Parliament House, or courts of justice.»
A young man hanged on the grim Grassmarket gallows summed up the feel of this place in his gallows' speech:
«Now, I leave off to speak any more to creatures, and turn my speech to Thee, O Lord. Now I begin my intercourse with God which shall never be broken off. Farewell, father and mother, friends and relations! Farewel, world and all delights! Fairwell, meat and drink! Farewell, sun, moon and stars! Welcome, God the Father! [...] Welcome, eternal life! Welcome, death!»
I sat down with a beautiful peaty Single Malt whisky from Islay and started to think.
Just how many Single Malts will I drink before my last drop? That may be the last one right now for all I know. You can't take the bottle to the grave and the only whisky that's really yours is the one you drink before you kick the bucket.
While I was contemplating life, death and gluttony, a vision came to me through the spirit. The inescapable conclusion is that you need to enjoy every whisky as it if were your last one. Carpe Whiskyem my friend - that's the spirit.
Enlightened by this gluttonous epiphany, I immediately set out to put my gullet where my philosophy was and ordered two more whiskys: One for the road - and one for the drop.
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