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A Spirited Trip to Scotland
Acknowledgement for Fruit of the Vine
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A Spirited Trip to Scotland

 

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Malt Whisky in Scotland = Scotch

Wednesday

After an overnight flight from Newark on Tuesday night we arrived early. Immigration and customs was fast and easy.
We picked up our Volvo diesel SUV with a GPS and had a very full day.
We went to Mark's Kosher Deli in Glasgow, Whole Foods Market and generally provisioned.

Our first single malt stop was (1) Auchentoshen Distillery (Lowland) where they triple distill and followed with a short ride to (2) Glengoyne Distillery ( Highland ) for tours and tastings.
We drove up the west side of Loch Lomond, did a 45 minute hike in the woodlands and had a picnic dinner by a waterfall with a low pass fighter jet salute to our arrival which was so low we practically hit the deck.
We continued to Oban for overnight at the Caledonian Hotel by quay and ferry terminal. We bought proper Scottish bonnets at a rural gift shop.

Thursday Happy 4th of July.

Rain to start the day slowly improved to intermittent showers.
Enjoyable but windy trip on a 5,000 ton Caledonian Car Ferry from Oban to Craignure (Island of Mull)

Our first stop was to 13th Century Duart Castle on the coast (a filming location for "Entrapment" and "When Eight Bells Toll")
We drove up the east coast with check in parking lot picnic and to a tour and tasting at (3) Tobermory Distillery (Highland Mull) with a peated and unpeated malt.
Larry and I played challenging (Billy goat) golf at the costal golf course with great views of the mountains, islands, crags and furth (cliffs and bay) and gale force winds.
Ron opted for a long hike.
Some time in the pub, dinner and walk along the quay with colorful buildings and it was another big day.
Overnight was at the Park Lodge Hotel.

Friday

We were up and out early morning for the 40 minute drive to the dock at Craignure and first ferry of the day back to Oban.
It was a very different smooth ride back with fair winds and following seas.

We were at (4) Oban Distillery ( West Highland ) in the heart of Oban early for the best tour and tasting yet with most knowledgeable guide.
It was the hashgama tour at 9:55 am.
It was also here we were introduced to the "Flavor Map" plotting single malts on a scale: Light to Rich and Delicate to Smoky.
Also here we registered as Diagio's - "Friends of the Classic Malts" and received our visitors passports and benefits at future distillery visits.

We followed with tailgate sandwiches in the car park and a 3 1/2 hour drive to (5) Glenkitchie Distillery (Lowland) south of Edinburgh .
Then to Thrums Hotel B&B for and a picnic on the back lawn with preparation for 8 PM mincha at Synagogue of Edinburgh.
Dinner was at the Rabbi's (a scotch enthusiast and member of Malt Whisky Society) with two couples from Israel and post midnight return to our B&B where I went around back and climbed in my window as front door required a code and there was no one at the desk.

Shabbat

Was "lovely" with great weather.
Shachrit began at 10:00 am and begin with Nishmat.
Shul Kiddush with china tea cups and glassware was a nice touch.
Lunch was with the Rabbi (a variety of herring and scotch) and then a long walk around the perimeter of Hollyrood Park with its crags (cliffs) and hikers to the Royal Mile and a stroll up hill to the Edinburgh Castle .
After a couple hours of menucha Mincha was at 7:15 pm with 8 pm Seuda at the Rabbi's followed by discussion on parsha shevua.
Shabbos ended at 11:33 pm.

Sunday

We departed with a packed breakfast at about "hof seven", spent a bit of time driving old Edinburgh and the Royal Mile before heading north to (6) Dalwhinnie Distillery (Northern Highland) and chocolate paring.
At high altitude and remote it is at the gateway to the Cairngorns (Quartz Mountains ) with very cold water and worm tub condenser.
It was here we learned how they enlarge the bourbon barrels by adding staves and recharge them to age the whisky.
Each distillery contributed to a new understanding and some unique experience.

We drove to Cairngorm Mountain Railway base for a picnic lunch, funicular ride up in time for our reserved guided "Walk @ the Top" to the summit.
A trip to a pub, walk to the river and overnight in small and very hospitable B&B called Kinross House in Granton on Spey.
Most locals appear stunned by the spectacular weather, the Wimbledon tennis match and the new Scottish tennis champion from Dunblane.
That and Egypt dominated the news.

Monday

The earliest tour (and tasting) yet. We left at the B&B at 8:30 and headed toward (7) Cragganmore Distillery (Speyside) arriving at 9:15 am
We started a private tour at 9:20 am and ended with a special private tasting in a Victorian club room full of antiques.
When we said: "L'chaim! our guide said: "If I new you were going to say "L'chaim" I would have said: "Shalom!"
It is a good story for later as are many others.

We stopped at the River Spey for a photo opportunity and went down to the river for a sip of the water source that flows through Speyside.
We drove to (8) Cardhu Distillery (Speyside) about 10 minutes away and only did a tasting of 5 wee drams as we did not think we could fit in a tour with all we wanted to do.

I had long prior adopted the routine starting by pouring some of my dram into Ron and Larry's as I was the designated driver but did not want to limit variety.
We had a picnic lunch at the Speyside Cooperage where they repair, resize and recharge the barrels/casks.
We passed Chivas, Dewars, Glenfiddich and many others but there is a limit even for us.

We headed to St. Andrews by way of Aberdeen for a walk around the campus, the golf course, clubhouse and a pint at a pub with a view of the last hole of the Old Course.
There was a Tanach conference at St. Andrews while we were there. It can not be common to see sheitels near the golf course.
Dinner was essentially snacking on peanut butter or imitation crab and veggies while driving.
We were at the Hilton Hydro Dunblane for our last night, our last pint and preparation for trip home in the morning.

Tuesday

After a short drive and small drama related to car rental clerical error regarding fuel tank level on pick up we prevailed with gas receipt evidence for our 800 mile journey (avoided $14.00 per gallon fuel refill fee) and proceeded to the EDI terminal.
There was no shortage of scotch tasting opportunities in the airport departure lounge and or duty free shops Including some drams of whisky which cost over $200 per bottle and not available elsewhere.

We generally found prices 30% - 50% higher than here with bottle size of 70cl which is almost 7% smaller than our 750ml.
The only liquor I bought on the trip was a bottle of Southern Comfort at Tesco with is technically a liqueur and only available from Ireland with acceptable hechsher.

We are officially malt whiskey mavens with clarity on the three Ingredients: Grain, Water and Yeast. As well as the Malting (converting starch to dissolvable sugar), Kiln Drying (where peat can be introduced), Grist Milling (flour, grits, husks), Mash Tun (draff and worts), Wash Back (fermentation to low wines), Distillation in pot stills (fore shots, heart, feints), Condensation (columns or worm tubs), Sprit Safe, barrel cooperage and or cask maturing process.

Just three ingredients but many nuanced process variables. Blended Grain, Blended Malt, Single Malt or Single Cask: Yum!

In general the weather far exceeded our expectations as much dryer and warmer than expected as did the apparent fortuitous nature of our timing as we routinely arrived just before an organized tour and or tasting.
It was an extraordinary trip we will recall with many stories and great memories for a very long time and the tales will likely get taller with each dram.

L'chaim!