The following originally appeared on Food Digital on April 17, 2013:

Walk into one of Scotland’s many kilt makers and you’ll invariably walk out with a host of items that are tangentially related to kilts but which share one thing in common: your family’s last name.  In years past I’ve walked out with a Johnstone tie, Johnstone family crest kilt pin, and a Johnstone family crest tea towel.  It’s hard to ignore products that carry the family name!

Living in the US now, I love showing off my family colors and crest.  My tartan tie is always well received and I often wear it with my kilt (Johnstone tartan, not plaid!).  My kilt pin was also a talking point until I lost it in Seattle last December.  Must get a new one soon.

All of which brings me to some exciting news.  There’s a new product coming to the US that is also a Scottish kilt shop staple.  And it combines my love of family with my love of whisky.

ImpEx Beverages, US importer of Arran, Kilchoman, and many others, has begun importing whisky miniatures adorned with family crests and tartans.  Key to the Clans features forty-eight different families (including Johnstone!) with each miniature housing eight year old single malt whisky from a Highland distillery.

I had a chance to discuss this project with Sam Filmus, President of ImpEx, last week in San Francisco.  He told me, “we brought Key to the Clans here in response to the continuing growth of Scottish heritage and culture in the US.  Representing forty-eight clans we are confident that a lot of people here in the US will find a little of their family history, roots and their home in a miniature bottle.”

While the miniatures are currently only available from The Whisky Shop in San Francisco the plan is for the miniatures to be available nationwide.  Mr Filmus described Paul McGinley, manager at The Whisky Shop, a kilt making and whisky selling enterprise in San Francisco’s Financial District, as instrumental in the conception of this project and someone who helped guide the process from start to finish.  I’d expect nothing less from a good Scots lad.

I think once these start to appear on shelves nationwide they’re going to be snapped up.  I’ve seen couples hand these out as favors at their wedding, parents give them away at christenings, and friends and family sending them to those who live far away from Scotland.

Now that I’m one of those Scots who lives far from home I’m going to have to get me a few Johnstone miniatures to carry around in my sporran.  Then it won’t just be the tie that’s a talking point!