The drive to Scotland from Brighton is less of a haul if you break it down into smaller parts. Well, that’s the theory anyway.
With that in mind, this year’s whisky-centric road trip begins with a five-day camping excursion in the Midlands with some of my closest friends. On arrival, I find my camper stuck in mud with immediate effect. After varied attempts by various people to free my vehicle from the bog, I’m finally saved by a local farmer and his [German] tractor [video]. We soon become the infamous rabble of the campsite, not only for the muddy incident, but because we come with games, fires, banquets, live music, whisky,… oh and the Rasta Bus! Our marathon performance of Waterfalls – which went on for two hours [we are dutifully informed in the morning] – would seal our middle-class gangster status for all of 24 hours or more.
One night, I introduce part of my whisky hoard to some of the younger peeps new to the category. Below are brief collective comments/feedback of theirs.
- Balblair 1997: “Sweet nose, but a sour taste“.
- 1970s blend: – “Oh nice,… sweet and woody“.
- Highland Park 12yo: “Like Famous Grouse my dad drinks“.
- Overholt 4yo [led to some concise detail]: “Strong spicy rhubarb and berry confectionery sweet“.
- Talisker 18yo: “This is the one“, and “Toasted honey barley,… essence of whisky“.
The seeds have been sown. Like cut grass, those smell & taste memories are locked in. There is a reminder here that the general perception is: sweet = good, sour = bad. On a more progressive note, the better whiskies do tend shine through, regardless of one’s knowledge or experience.
Camping is followed by a couple of days in Oxfordshire for [more] fun and games, namely Rounders – a game that like Monopoly, makes one side feel great and the other, the complete opposite.
At 06:30 on a misty Sunday morning, I’m on my way, headed directly for Scotland. I’m surprised by the sheer number of imbeciles on the road at this time, the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend too. Perhaps they are still buzzing from the night before?
The general plan for this year’s Scottish whisky jaunt includes visiting Raasay, Ardnamurchan, Tobermory, [perhaps] Arran, Campbeltown, and Lindores Abbey distilleries – and involves a number of peeps from the Sussex Whisky Appreciation Group. After hours and hours and hours of driving, I get the
chequered [no] ‘white saltire defacing a blue field‘ Scottish flag, followed by the brown tourist sign for Annandale [WLP] a mile or so later.
Once over the Erskine Bridge, past Glasgow, and through the Loch Lomond stretch, come some of world’s most iconic geological wonders. Rugged and immaculate, they don’t call ’em the Highlands for nothing. The only criticism I have of Glencoe [below] is that I never ever spot a single dinosaurs. Apparently, they are nesting this time of year.
A Green Welly stop-off sees me picking up ‘fuel’. With thanks to Kieran at Tyndrum for the Craigellachie tipple:
Craigellachie 2011/2021 10yo DT Dimensions sherry cask #75900020 [390 bts] 54.1% WB86
- C: Essence of barley spirit with a subtle/moderate complexity. Very decent.
Scores 84 points
Whilst the Craigellachie is decent, I plumb for Lindores’ affordable inaugural release as a direct result of SWAG’s latest Lindores tasting [WLP]. It’s an easy pleasing swigger to add to my mobile dramming cache [full bottle review to follow in due course, of course].
Moving on, I pass a ferry to my left [see pic below]. Where’s that too I wonder? I later find out it’s the Corran ferry linking Nether Lochaber to Ardgour. For another time, me thinks.
Sometime later, I find myself once again at the junction where the A82 meets the A830. It’s a good place to stock-up, and whisky-wise, there’s Ben Nevis Distillery. Last year – on my way to the Outer Hebrides – it was a miserable wet windy day [see pic].
This time around, aside from the Ben itself, the distillery was bathed under a hot sun and a glorious deep-blue sky [even if I did overdo the saturation levels a little]. I must go inside one day [if they’ll have me].
After yet more miles after more miles, I’m now just two hours from my first destination, Raasay. After 13 hours at the wheel, however, it’s time for me to stop for the night. I soon find a popular spot just off the main road that runs alongside [Greek-like] Loch Lochy – inspired name! Thankfully, the traffic soon dies down.
The weather remains resplendent all evening, ideal for a bracing evening dip. Afterwards, I catch up on the cricket highlights from Headingley – wow England [men] – enjoy soup and some Lindores,…. zzzzzz
Tomorrow, I shall be on raasay!