Pope praises Oban’s ‘holy’ spirit

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A single malt whisky made in Oban has caused a stir in the spiritual world.

Pope Francis was reportedly caught on camera endorsing a product made at the historic Oban Distillery in Stafford Street.

Handed a bottle by student priests from Scotland, the 83-year-old pontiff reportedly joked: ‘Questa e la vera acqua santa’, which  translates to ‘this is the real holy water’.

But news of the head of the Catholic church giving a recommendation for the brand sparked a ‘malt-down’, with Vatican officials insisting Il Papa’s quip was cut from the documentary before being broadcast on BBC Scotland last Sunday.

Narrated by Scottish-Italian actress Daniela Nardin, Priest School follows the life of seminarians – students of the Catholic church – at the Scots College in Rome who met the Pope last year.

Director Tony Kearney, whose Solus Productions company made the documentary, told the media: ‘We filmed the students meeting with the Pope in the Apostolic Palace. One of them was tasked with giving the Pope a bottle of malt, because they know he likes whisky.

‘He was really down to earth with them all and when they handed him the bottle of Oban malt, instead of just handing it to his assistant as he normally would with a gift, he held it up and said: ‘Questa e la vera acqua santa,’ which means ‘this is the real holy water’.

‘He guffawed with laughter and it was a real ice-breaker with the students and put everyone at ease.

‘But we’d agreed that the Vatican’s media office would be allowed to approve all of our footage before we broadcast it. So we sent them the files and when they sent it back, that bit of him saying that was cut out.’

The Oban single malt is described as having ‘fruity notes of oranges, mandarins, pears and figs, a hint of sea salt and a peaty, smoky taste’.