Britain: Over the Barrel

The news out of Scotland last week was enough to give any Rob Roy drinker pause. A crisis is bubbling in the Scotch industry, whose exports earned Britain more than $258 million in muchneeded dollars and other foreign exchange last year. The crisis is not due to a shortage of whisky but of barrels.

Scotch is aged in used barrels, which improve flavor and prevent undue evaporation. Best for the job are sherry-soaked, whiteoak barrels from Spain. Second best and far behind are used 50-gallon bourbon barrels from the U.S., in which most...

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