Those words probably won’t mean that much to you, but I can assure you, for someone from my background and views, they’re loaded with significance and symbolism. Even more so given events in Britain in recent days and the furore around the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.
For many of us of a certain age brought up in Great Britain, the Union flag, or worse still, the English cross of St George, were effectively political statements, adopted and displayed only by the Far Right, and completely shunned by the left. Unlike the saints’ days of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, St George’s Day was largely ignored. To a great extent it still is.
But in the last two decades, and particularly since the Euro ‘96 football tournament which was held in England, the political sting of the English and British flag has been removed and today it’s just about okay for even the likes of me to raise a glass in April and do so without the weight of imperialism holding us back.
And this April the English have more to toast than normal, as English whisky takes even more confident moves forward. St George’s Distillery in Norfolk is well established now, and continues to raise its game year on year.
But now English whisky stands ready to step forward in to a new area. This December Adnams releases its first two whiskies from the Copper House Distillery and they’re ground breaking. They’re breaking free from conventional whisky styles and exploring new flavours and routes.
I visited the distillery recently to try them at two and a half years old and was amazed. The full report of my visit is in this issue of World Whisky Review.
Meanwhile down in London The London Distillery Company continues to battle to bring us English micro distilled whisky. We talk to distiller Andrew MacLeod-Smith about the pros and cons to put quality first and what the distillery’s dreams and aspirations are.
I was going to include St George's too but there is so much going on there I've decided to use it as an excuse for another trip in to the warehouses so I'm holding that one back of for the next issue and .
In fact this is a bit of a British issue, and that's because in recent weeks much of my attention has been on the Craft Distillers Alliance, which is now growing in to a serious force, has recruited its first major Scottish members, and has appointed Stephen Davies, managing director of Penderyn as our first chairman.
We've had a surge of new members and two of them - one in Italy, one on America, are also featured here.
The next issue will have a far more international feel about it, but for now here's to England and St George. They're a funny lot, the English - the most reluctant to join The CDA, often aloof to the point of snottiness, and even in the area of distilling, where they're centuries behind, having the merest whiff of superiority about them.
But what the hell. With whisky making taking place in England’s South and East, joined by Hicks & Healey in the South West and potentially Lakes in the North West, England is a whisky making nation once more, and when you add in the gin and rum production now going on, it’s becoming a distilling hotbed. That’s worth any Englishman celebrating – cheers!