The Ultimate Dramboree

The Ultimate Dramboree happened on the long weekend of July 6th – 8th 2018, this was at the Rowardennan Lodge Youth Hostel (also known as Midge Hell) at Loch Lomond.

I guess I can be described as a Dramboree newbie as this was definitely going to be my last one, the first being last year…which was fun!!

Soooo… yes, what went down?

Well for starters I managed to pack, albeit a bit late in deciding to actually go (we’re talking me showering at 09:03 am then packing and all that for a 09:47 departure…)

So upon arrival in Glasgow I bumped and then fist bumped in to Connas (TWL) and Billy (TWE) too… so at least I knew I was heading in the right direction 🙂

Then a few more familiar faces were waiting at the coach stop, more hellos and then all aboard the whisky bus… next stop Loch Lomond. I hadn’t been in that neck of the woods since 1994/5, so it was kind of nice to see the area again. As we were aboard the boat to the hostel I spotted Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) peaking its head over in the distance, I climbed that a lifetime ago.

Anyway where was I? Ah yes, Billy came a pouring, and we all shared a dram of Loch Lomond Inchmurrin… apt time to have one.

Such stunning “wish you were here views” on the way across.

So we arrived at the hostel. We collected our name tags (provided in case you got so trollied you’d remember who you were…) and dumped our bags in our rooms.

Friday night’s tasting was given by Oliver Chilton, where we tried and discussed adding water during maturation. I recall a comment about people thinking it’s a black art… I won’t tell you what it actually is 😆

It was then time to clear the room and get set up for dinner, haggis neeps and tatties (animal bits and oatmeal, veg and mashed potato.)

Later on Friday we all gathered round the table to introduce our bottles.. 10 seconds to do so before the horn sounded ha ha.

I had a few nice drams that evening, Dave suggested a rather yummy 1964 North of Scotland single grain…yum yum. I also had a brief dalliance with an 8 year old GlenDronach.

Then an early night.

Saturday was distillery visit day. So after a rather unfulfilling sausage… thin (we all know I like one I can get my teeth into 🤪) it was breakfast dram time which was a 21 year old from Glentauchers (Chorlton Whisky) then all aboard the coach to Deanston Distillery. Yippee!!

What a fab day, our group started with a tasting with Dr Kirstie McCallum (senior blender) in warehouse no.4, this is where I lost my valinch virginity…

We sampled the 2003 Bourbon Cask – 15 yo 58.7% , 2004 Amontillado Matured 18 yo 59.4% and the Organic 2002 which spent 2 years in PX cask 49.6% (if my notes serve me well?) After that we stopped for a picnic lunch and a break to peruse the visitor centre too.

After lunch the groups swapped and we were met by Stephen Woodcock (distilleries manager), we then went for a really in-depth tour of the distillery…I even rubbed the Porteous Mill twice for luck (think that paid off later…) I have to say the bodega style warehouse was excellent. We then met en masse for one final tasting where we sampled some Ledaig and Bunnahabhain whiskies too. I took my samples with me to enjoy later…you know me, I hardly drink… ha ha ha.

Back at the hostel once more we were treated to a tasting with Lora Hemy, this was exploring the esters.. very interesting indeed. We had the following from That Boutique-y Whisky Company Slyrs, Irish, Aberfeldy, Glenlossie, Langutun, and the Millstone which completely threw me…it bought a bottle of this when I was at Stourbridge (I’ll open my bottle soon) I got a definite note of celery (as did others at my table) and not being a fan of celery (unless it’s cooked in a cold curing chicken soup.) Time will tell… lol.

Dinner was chicken and ribs and beans and I guess interesting nights in the dorms of those bean eaters!! Ha ha.

After dinner I took myself off for an hour, went and sat by the loch and enjoyed a little dram of GlenDronach from cask 656 a lovely 24 year old sherry butt. Soaked in the views/solitude and sat with a smile…

Had a quick shower as I had been bitten by a horse fly…ouch. Flicked it off and stood on the nasty little git, then while speaking to Kat, Julie said to join them on the launch…it was midge free!! I know I have a couple of buoyancy aids but me and water are a no no (I can’t swim.) Assurances in place I have to say we had a bloody good laugh. I went and brought out the SWMS Mannochmore and we laughed and drank whisky. There was a full moon, but not in the sky ha ha.

Later I had a good chat with Jason and others. Lines were recited from Ferris Buellers Day Off.

I went to bed at 03:15 am. Think I kind of shocked those used to seeing my early night all and sweet dreams tweets… but when you normally wake up a silly o’clock it’s to be expected, and I woke up bright and breezy on Sunday.

Sunday was brekky, boat, train and home.

I’m glad I went.

Huge thanks to Jason and Jonny for taking time out of their busy lives to organise these weekends, the last two I attended were fun.

To those who chatted, thank you too. Those who hugged me and those who laughed with me… see you out there. I’m sure there’ll probably be an impromptu Ultimate Dramboree gathering at the Whisky Exchange Show later in the year….

Sarah x

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