TOWARDS THE END of his life, Ludwig Wittgenstein lived largely on a diet of cornflakes; he reasoned that there came a time when, if you found a perfectly agreeable foodstuff, it made little sense to diversify that same token, were I to restrict myself to a single drink for the rest of my unnatural life I should plump for Scotch. Despite having experimented with numerous alternatives, from Swahillian tembo to the burned wines of Iceland, I find the 'water of life' always emerges as my preferred fuel; gin seems overly diuretic, brandy makes behave like Andy Pandy, and champagne is frankly dangerous - the cork comes flying out at 42 feet per second, and I need my eyesight for fly-fishing. Since 1990. when I finished mv thousandth bottle of whisky, middle age may have diminished my rate of consumption, but at least I now have the advantage of dwelling in Perthshire - there is nothing better than drinking the wine of the country, and I do like my burn water (as Keats put it) 'diluted with a gill of whisky'.
Although these days you can order a dram in any bar from Tegucigalpa to Tightwad, Missouri, the global station of Scotch is a relatively recent development in the long and distinguished history of Homo horizontalis. It did not achieve widespread popularity until Gladstone permitted its importation in bottles (though his