My experience with Scottish Whisky
Having now lived in Scotland for nearly 10 years, I almost feel I can claim that a good Scottish Whisky is also my national drink! As May is now officially the Whisky Month and 2015 is the official ‘Year of Food and Drink’ by Visit Scotland, I thought it was only appropriate that I shared some of my thoughts and experiences with this well known and sometimes unusual, but yet beautiful drink.
There is something special about this unique drink, (or Dram as it is referred to locally in Scotland) not sure if it comes from the places it is distilled, the beautiful fresh Scottish waters or just the maturing process in the many different and often remote locations across Scotland
I only really started appreciating and enjoying Scottish Whisky a few years back. As mentioned in one of my recent blogs about the Isle of Arran, I only visited my first Whisky Distillery back in 2011. This was the Isle of Arran Distillery, which sits in the shadow of Meall Mor Hill on the north of the island in little village of Lochranza.
We had a fantastic tour by Campbell, who has been at Arran Distillery since its opening in 1996.
Our fantastic tour was finished with an amazing whisky tasting then of the 10 and 14 year old. I ended up buying the 14 year old, just could not resist!
Since then I have visited numerous distilleries on the islands off the west coast and on the mainland of Scotland throughout the Lowlands, Highlands and Speyside. To this day my favourite whiskies are the smokey and peaty ones from the island of Islay. For some people these are too rich and flavourful, but to me the peat brings out the real flavour and enhances the experience even further.
I had the pleasure of visiting this very beautiful island, which sits off the west coast of Scotland, about four years ago for a long weekend. Not only did I get to visit Laphroaig Distillery, home of my favourite Whisky, I also got to see how the peat is taken from the local ground to bring out the wonderful flavour that it consists of, how the wheat and barley is dried, worked and mixed with the beautifully fresh island water to create this outstanding world class whisky. The best part was of course to taste the dram at the place it’s created!
While on the island there is a lot more to experience, particularly in the outdoors, including the amazing beach the big Strand (which in fact means beach in Danish). This made me feel very at home! For further details visit www.islayjura.com/
Despite now having visited several of the smaller and also largest distilleries across Scotland, I still find it fascinating and hugely satisfying to visit new distilleries. When walking past the huge stills, taking in the wheat and barley smells from the mash turner, you get drawn into this fascinating process of turning water into Whisky!
Also, the buildings themselves are incredibly, most of them throughout Scotland designed in a similar style, yet in their own individual way, depending the location and landscape.
I’m by no means an expert and have a massive respect for the master distillers out there who’s noses has to manage the daily task of making sure we all get to enjoy only the very best and most unique flavours of their Whisky.
It’s impressive to think how many different flavours we now see right across Scotland, not only from the mainland to the islands, but even between the smaller local distilleries. As Scotch Whisky is still one of the main exports across the globe from Scotland, distilleries are constantly trying to improve and better what’s on offer. As it takes at least three years and a day of maturing in a cask, for the whisky to be officially to be called a Scotch Whisky, they always have to be ahead of their game, which they manage incredibly well. This does however also mean that many Scottish Distilleries has now started distilling Gin on site, as this is a much quicker process and you can still play with the flavours and create some rather beautiful tastes during this fairly quick process.
Where to enjoy Scottish Whisky
When you are visiting Scotland and wanting to learn more about or try the Scotch whiskies, there are many different ways in which this can be done depending on the time you can spare. From Guided tours of many of Scotland’s Whisky Distilleries or even exclusive Whisky tastings in many of our unique Castles or venues across Scotland. Often the journey itself towards many of the distilleries can be an experience, as they often are located in remote locations of the country.
To the Scottish Whisky Experience which sits in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, which also holds the world’s largest collection of Scottish Whisky with almost 3,500 bottles, to the Scotch Whisky Society where you can hire private and exclusive tasting of their cask strength Whisky’s. You will also find many tour companies across Scotland offering designated Whisky tours, from one to several days.
How to enjoy Scottish Whisky
I believe there is a flavour for everyone, the only way to find out is to start tasting them! I would of course always recommend to have a dram neat, maybe with a drop of water to further enhance their flavours. My ideal way to enjoy a good Scottish Whisky is either in the outdoors while camping or hiking around Scotland or even in front of a wood or peat burning fireplace.
I hope you enjoy the Scottish Whisky’s responsibly!
To follow the Scotlanders around Scotland while they experience everything it has to offer including the Scottish Distilleries you can follow them on twitter @Scotlanders or via #Scotlanders or visit http://www.thescotlanders.com