Inside the Bottle: There is Light Even in the Darkest Places…

I thought it was time to let the words flow from my heart to the page once more…

Good riddance 2020, definitely an annus horribilis… in some parts anyway, but as they say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!!”

So no whisky festivals this year…my poor ‘go bag’ has been banished to the attic. Fear not my little pink case, our time will return.

I’m sat here with my Thinking Tunes playlist playing on Spotify (private mode) and I’m having some me time as I type. Blinking heck my right ear is burning, I do hope someone is saying nice things about me that would be nice… sorry, off topic.

It IS burning though.

This year, as all of us have been witness to, has been a utterly rotten one, though, and I won’t be pressed on this, but I feel that “there is light, even in the darkest places…”

I know I might come across as a sad soppy person, but that’s probably me just figuring things out. I am an optimist (shock horror), because no matter how dark it becomes, or how close I can be pushed to the edge, I pull back. There is always a glimmer of light. The point is to pull out, sometimes it’s a hard old fight, but take it from me, keep pulling!!

Years ago someone told me quite matter of factly, that I am very ‘open’, that’s maybe some of it too. It’s just having the guts to set some people straight…sometimes it just ain’t worth the words, and then other times the problem just gives up and buggers off of its own accord. Yippee!!

Real life has been a challenge, but in a way, I deserve a rest too. Can’t go hard at it for 36 years without one…and something good is just around the corner…believe me.

Recently someone reminded me of something and I guess this too is reflected by the title of this blog… and it’s something people have said to me before, and I do listen, and…it’s basically to remember the good things (and also that sometimes people might be jealous – I accept that too!!) I think that raised its ugly head this year.

These past (nearly 5 years) have been fun, some have been exhilarating, and some help that smile spread across my lips once more. I love that.

While I was thinking about what to write about, I have spent time thinking about all the whisky festivals I have been to over the past few years, from the first to the last, and I have to say on the whole they were bloody good fun!! What I love is being able to sit and think back to those times, allow certain instances to play back as snippets of footage in my mind…from being a little anxious waiting to go into my first ever whisky festival, to the ones where people stop what they are doing and pull me in for a hug (or a catch up.)

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

All these photos mean something… well to me anyway, maybe others too, but they are places on the map which reflect the parts of my journey. Someone also reminded me about the time I was nominated for Communicator of the Year, and it still makes me buzz and feel humbled to have been shortlisted…I still recall the moment I stumbled across it, and I will never find out who put my name forward, but it was obviously done with kindness in mind!! Thank you.

Friends… oh bloody hell, have I missed my friends, and I am hoping that 2021 allows me to be utterly and thoroughly squished!! Be warned…I expect tight hugs!! Really tight hugs…

As ever some delicious whiskies have cropped up as freebies with crisps…ha ha!! If you have seen my timeline then you will know which ones they are. So at least I gave myself a few treats this year. As well as those on tastings too of course, and big thanks to Steve for picking me to partake in them!!

Choccies and fudge have been shelved at the moment, I’ve already explained the reasons for this and I just hope that the new year brings cheaper PPE and an easing of the way items are delivered…it’s all about you my dear customer. So don’t for one moment think “nom nom, it’s all gone !!” has completely gone… Nope.

To those of you who kept in touch, thank you

To those of you who wrote words of strength, thank you

To those that understood, thank you

So I can leave this In 2020 land….To those of you who tried to make a mockery out of me, fuck you!! (apologies for swearing, but these are my true feelings). Yes I could be polite and diplomatic to get this points across, but sometimes, just sometimes I need to speak their language!! Subtle digs too…if you have an issue, speak up!!

At least I finished the year on a positive smiley note: my mammogram results received in the mail this morning were über quick, and the results say they are clear!! I love my boobs (TMI) but there you go…

Big hugs and gratitude to my whisky consultant, and also Andy Watts & Dave aka guv’nor & Atom Brands, and those that have introduced me to new whiskies. Ant and Dec for having a chat with me…and everyone else that’s managed to help me raise a smile. To those that have kept me going…you most definitely know who you are.

Love & hugs, Sarah ❤️

Roll on 2021….

Smile, and the World Smiles With You… A Little Review of 2019

Smile, and the World Smiles With You…

While I was giving some consideration to the title of this blog, I was sat somewhere very quiet… my thoughts drifting to happy times, the times where a smile dances on my lips, and I feel at home in the thought and recollection of that moment.

Surely we all have those times? I’m blinking sure we need them!!

That’s what counts.

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Whisky Life

If you have seen me out and about, then you know where I have been, and those places have been fun… and thorougly enjoyable (on occasion.)

I just wish some people would get off their bloody high horse’s and be… normal. Normal is good. I soooo love normal people. Better a giggle and a catch up, then being stood thinking “huh, why did I try?” Despite being shy, I will actually speak to strangers, people at bus stops etc., that simple interaction could be the only contact that person has, so kindness should prevail. Always.

I actually wrote something about this earlier in the year, the whisky side of life. You can have a read here: Inside the Bottle: Thinking

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Real Life…

As I and other’s have posted recently, there are more links and numbers in this post by Sorren – ocdwhisky.com there are those who are less fortunate than us, and times when people simply cannot see through the fog… the black dog biting at their ankles. Worries, pressures etc. etc.

These people need our not only support, but that of professionals. There is nothing sadder (or scarier) than seeing a family member or friend so troubled that they are looking for a way out, and when you cannot help them despite trying, you hope the help they need will come swiftly to allow them the strength to go on or the want to live.

Samaritans 116 123

Mind 0300 123 3393 or text 86463

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Highlights

IMG_2109Firstly, I would like to say a huge thank you to That Boutique-y Whisky Company and Atom Brands for inviting me to be part of the Dram Good Club, the tastings and also the whisky advent calendar.. and my Whisky Santa present, it’s all been utterl-y delicious and utterl-y awesome!! A big hug to the “guv’nor” Dave for being Dave. Also, Emily and Ros too.

Steve Rush The Whisky Wire a huge amount of thanks to you too!! Thanks for allowing me to be part of the online tastings, both Twitter and Instagram… a fantastic way to develop both my knowledge and palate in the fine company of others.

Greg from Great Drams also, the tastings you had were fab too, especially the Dewar’s of Aberfeldy tasting, the 40 year old was delicious!!

Ant and Dec aka Andy and Stu for their humorous comments and general support and loveliness… their podcasts are more than well worth a listen too, even in bed. Ha ha!! Maybe that’s just me…

I have had some lovely distillery visits again in 2019. Having Speyside a stone’s throw away from me is wonderful and I’m very fortunate to be in a position to just get in my car and go… Meeting Rachel Barry, which felt like meeting an old friend while at BenRiach and online support of my blogs and thoughts has been fantastic too!!

Thoughts

I haven’t blogged quite as much as I wanted to, and I still have things to catch up with. That said, the whiskies I have tried, including those from my own collection (if I can call it that?) have been delcious to sit with…even ones I have had for a couple of years.

Some of my favourite tastings & thoughts from the year:

Auchentoshan Distillery Exclusive

Invergordon – 42 Year Old – That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Boutique-y-licious Baby!

The English Whisky Company | Tweet Tasting

Thanks to Dominic Roskrow for agreeing to let me post my responses to the questions he’d asked me, and some lovely comments from Andy Watts –  If You Ask Me…

Glenfarclas 2003 Distillery Exclusive 2019

Bimber Distillery Tweet Tasting

Dumbarton 22 Year Old – That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Three Ships 6 Year Old – Batch 1 – That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Icons of whisky Scotland 2020

So it was a huge surprise to see my name on the shortlist for “Communicator of the Year”!! Believe me, it was also a huge honour and delight to see it there too, thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for me…even though I didn’t win, it’s the taking part that’s important too!! Congratulations of course to the winners!!

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Daydreamer

I know I love to drift off into daydreams, or spend time listening to music while looking through my photostream. Memories can evoke a feeling that gets you through the day (happy days, travel days, sad or lonesome days, whatever you feel days!! ((I’ve said before, you don’t have to be alone to feel lonely, though it’s also true that I like my time alone… there are subtle differences to each.))

It is escapism.

A smile can hide so much, yet a smile can also reveal so much… it can even be about being in the right place at the right time.

I know facing some people and situations this year has left me feeling stronger (about bloody time!!) and bollocks to the rest… I’ve spoken up, which was refreshing.

Sometimes we face hard times, but you can either succumb to them, or let them remind you that you are strong… stronger than you or I might think!!

Whisky in Bottles

I have been really lucky and fortunate to be able to buy some more bottles of whisky…and so much for me not buying any more, at least I’m sure that was what I said in June, July, August…?

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Sweets for My Sweet

Sugar for my honey…

My whisky chocolates (with ample amounts of whisky deliciousness) have been so well received. Even the “Rene Yell” truffles…

Please don’t give up hope of trying them (as explained below, there were some constraints this year) and 2020 is just around the corner, and I am still here!! So keep your eye’s peeled…

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To those that love to say “nom nom, it’s all gone !!” thanks for your custom and support throughout the year. And the feedback too of course.

Friendship

To me, friendship is so important… to be able to have someone who listens to you, and to be able to be there for them also. To have someone to laugh with, be silly with, to honestly be myself with… this is what matters.

So, if you have been there, through the quiet times, the tough times, the smiley and memorable times… thank you. I truly mean that.

Life is full of uncertainty but that should’t ever stop us from trying.

Ever.

A passion for change, a desire for more, a thirst for adventure, sheer determination, faith, call it whatever you need to. This can be all it takes to achieve something that could take your breath away!!

All that is left to say is this, Merry Christmas!! (Okay, maybe a little late… I was writing this on Tuesday morning while multitasking ((believe it or not, I was lost in nice thoughts while writing this.))

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, and I wish you health, happiness and prosperity in 2020.

Love, Sarah ♥ x x x 

PS. click on the blue…they are links

PPS. thers’s a little more to read below the photographs

Real Life…If I should Explain?

It has been a funny old year…not so much funny ha ha, more odd and tiring funny. Due to the latter I have been taking action… You see, if you don’t respect yourself, then how can you expect others to?

Maybe I shouldn’t explain, there again, maybe I should…

Some can empathise as to how utterly debilitating this can be (taking its toll on your health for example – perhaps leaving you rundown and all that.) Others wouldn’t know empathy if it smacked them round the face with a wet fish!!!

Believe me, I am always always looking for the good things to come, being positive and upbeat. Being grateful and happy… however, there can be a sadness that breathes down your neck…lurking in the corner, waiting to pounce. Merely being reminded by someone that your lives have been tough the last 13 years can be the last thing you want to hear…

Pardon my French, but I really do wish it would just fuck off !!

A few weeks back we thought we were about to lose Mum, thankfully she has stabilised, but she is still so frail and poorly. You can feel so helpless in that all you can do is hold a hand, stroke her hair and talk to her, and hope she can hear the words of love that are being spoken to her.

It is also sad that I’ve lost contact with some… but that’s life.

Struggles and/or pressure can make us withdraw. Whether intentionally or not, maybe it’s what we need, or it just happens. That space. That time.

If I’ve not said hello, don’t turn your back on me. Whether figuratively or literally…I’ve had that done. It can make you feel less of yourself, if you allow it to. I think it says more about them than it does me… I’m not offended, I’m kinda just saying.

I’ve thought about friends and acquaintances, and those people I would normally see out and about at festivals. If I’ve not liked or commented on things, don’t think it’s because I’m not interested. I am. It’s just the way its been.

In life, we don’t only deal with ourselves, we are there for friends and loved ones. Work can become busy or things can happen, and you might forget about checking timelines or whatever…

But there is still a person there too. Thanks to those that do say hello… etc. Maybe you have to coax people out on occasion…some of you have.

Saying all that, I do hope you’ve had a good year. I hope you’ve been blessed with happiness and good times. I hope you’ve made memories to look back on later.

See y’all out there in 2020!!

If You Ask Me…

Inside the Bottle: If You Ask Me…

A little while back I was asked if I would like to take part in a feature, unfortunately this didn’t go ahead as things don’t always go to plan… however, I have been thinking about those questions and my answers recently, so I got in touch and asked if I could share what I had written. Many thanks to Dominic Roskrow for the questions and allowing me to post them here now…

These were from a while ago, but my thoughts and responses remain as they were given, though some might differ if I were asked them again today...

So here goes:

Please tell me about yourself; age, background, sort of person you are:

I’m Sarah, I’m 47 years young and I have lived in the North East of Scotland since 1981. Prior to that I lived in the North East of England in a smallish village. 

What sort of person am I? Hmm, I’m the sort who wears her heart on her sleeve and will do anything I can to help people. I’m a little bit shy, but I come out of my shell in the right company…and I do love to talk. I’ve got a daft sense of humour and the innate ability to make the most innocent comment sound iffy… but it’s just me being me.

The past few years I’ve changed a lot, they’ve given me a certain confidence and this in turn has fuelled a feeling of wanderlust and a thirst for change…make of that what you will!! 

How did you discover whisky? Please tell me about your personal journey:

I guess I discovered whisky or was aware of whisky as it was something I was familiar with growing up. My late father was a fan of Glenfiddich. My mum made homemade wine, so even from a young age I was aware of alcohol. I’d sometimes be given a little elderberry wine with lemonade as a treat. 

My first distillery visit was to Highland Park on Orkney in 1993 I think. In my early working days we’d head out and have a beer and Jack Daniels…but both of those failed to hold my interest. 

Then in my thirties, I basically stopped drinking for six years, out of choice I hasten to add… early starts meant there was no point in pushing the extra glass of wine and risking being over the limit the next day. Then when I decided to start drinking alcohol again it happened to be whisky, it was a kind of exploration to see what was out there… Bruichladdich, Laphroaig, Ardbeg and also Clynelish and Jura. 

I was a massive fan of Jura… eagerly awaiting the latest release and buying the special bottlings. And then drinking them… though that’s changing too. My tastes in whisky have changed too, and I like that. I love that the journey I’m on has opened my heart to new joys…

I’ve gone from whisky onlooker to a fan who enjoys trying and teasing myself with new aromas, flavours and experiences. I’m fortunate to have a myriad distilleries on my doorstep too, and count myself as lucky in that respect. 

And what inspired you to write about it?

There are some blogs that I read and they capture me with their words… in the way they engage you, they almost have you sat imagining being there with the whisky in your hand. 

Yet a Welsh man said “go for it” and well I did. I wanted to share my thoughts and moments. 

Please tell me about your website/blog, what it covers and what you are setting out to achieve from it?

My blog is ilovewhisky.blog (you might notice a common theme…iheartwhisky too) and it’s a place for me to express myself and share my distillery visits, tastings, festival visits and my little whisky fudge business. 

It’s given me a place to express myself…an escape, a place where people can visit and read and maybe find something they’re looking for. It’s a reference point for me on a personal level too. My thoughts and feelings are entwined in the words, memories and moments sit alongside recollections of emotions certain whiskies gave me and experiences. In my “Inside the Bottle” blogs there are stories which echo my hopes and dreams and some of the feedback I have received has really touched me. 

I guess I’m like everyone else in that we want to have people use our blogs as a reference point…a base of knowledge (not mine I’m sure, but others exist.) 

If one or two people get me, or my words resonate with them, then I am happy. 

And I use it to promote and sell iheartwhisky fudge too. 

So I will carry on. 

How have you engaged with the world of whisky –  through social media, distillery visits, whisky festivals?

I’ve become more and more involved with the world of whisky since maybe 2011 or so…? I think 2016 was the turning point for me though. Social media has been quite pivotal in my journey and also whisky festivals… I kind of started with “oh flipping heck  I’m here by myself…yikes!!” to “flipping heck, what a journey..”

Are there people who have inspired you, or given you great advice, or supported and helped you?

There are a few. And I’m happy to call them friends too. Lucky me. 

Sorren (@ocdwhisky / ocdwhisky.com) has given me so much help…and he has a huge amount of passion and knowledge about whisky. He has also guided me along my journey.. with advice, support, humour and friendship. He has stood beside me as a friend, and has been there for me. 

Mr. Boutique-y Whisky, aka Dave Worthington has been my “go to” whisky guru for a few years and I always held him in high regard. I actually had the pleasure of meeting him at my first whisky festival, which was at York in 2016. His passion for whisky is quite infectious! 

There are a couple of others too, Tom Thomson and Jon Webb. Lovely chaps who have given valuable support and guidance, and friendship and humour. 

Tom has also been a touchstone for advice and support and is a good friend too. It’s nice to catch up with him when I can. Jon is responsible for getting me to spread my wings and get myself to Dramboree last year, my shyness was holding me back, but with his encouragement I’ve been trying some new things with his advice and knowledge. 

On the whole the majority of the people I have met have been absolutely lovely, they freely give of themselves when it comes to discussing and sharing their love of whisky. 

What whiskies/whiskeys do you particularly like and do you have favourites?

Mmm I think some of this depends on the mood I’m in, how I’m feeling or if I want to go back to a certain time and reminisce… but, there’s always a but isn’t there. 

I’ve really been enjoying some lovely bottles from That Boutique-y Whisky Company recently, I have the 42 year old Invergordon (batch 15) this is a single grain whisky, a delicious dram. There’s caramel and sticky toffee. There’s a little wood too. The palate is smooth but big! Vanilla and mocha and it’s both sweet and full and reassuringly good. I have kind of  moved away from smoky and peated whiskies and am most definitely getting into sherry finished and bourbon cask finishes. My favourite? Yes I have one and I’m on my third and last bottle…and if I can find another…I’ll do my best to lay my hands on it. This is the Glenrothes 1997 from independent bottlers Claxton’s, it’s a rather delicious 19 year old. It just fills me with happy thoughts and hits the spot perfectly. 

Invergordon

Why has whisky become so popular in recent years, particularly among  women and younger drinkers?

I’m not sure. Maybe it’s become more acceptable to try whiskies? I know that in my working life there are very few who actually enjoy a dram, most are beer drinkers. 

I think the media plays a big part in attracting people and encouraging them to give it a go… And we are all aware of certain brands that we perhaps wouldn’t drink ourselves, but it seems to be attracting a more diverse audience. 

About women enjoying whisky, well I guess some of us have done so for years. Yet its become the “in thing” to label or highlight certain sectors/groups/demographics, my personal thought is that if you enjoy it, drink it, tell others (if you so desire) and just get on with it. 

Do you see any developing trends in whisky? 

Erm not so sure how to answer this…

Do you have a bucket list of places to and distilleries to visit, people to meet etc.?

My bucket list…well I definitely want to visit The Balvenie distillery and am hoping this will happen shortly, and to get over to Islay and spend some time there. I’ve got a few in Scotland I still wish to visit. And I’m sure I’ll get there. Sounds daft, but I’m more than happy to meet any whisky loving people. Some have said hello in the past without introducing themselves which I found utterly odd… but as they say “there’s nowt as queer as folk”. I have always viewed my whisky life as a journey, and as long as I keep moving forward while enjoying it, then that’s what matters most. 

Finally, what do you think the future for the world of whisky?

I see more automation creeping in, and maybe it’s because I’m a soppy old romantic at heart, but I think it would be a sad sight to see distilleries completely moving away from wooden components to stainless steel, and machines replacing the men and women who know the idiosyncrasies of the distillery… I’m also happy to see more distilleries opening, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the future. Then there are those that are expanding too, it can only be a positive thing…and as long as prices remain affordable, I’ll keep buying and keep enjoying the water of life.

Thanks again to Dom for allowing me to publish the questions he had asked me.

Sarah

 

Inside the Bottle: Thinking

We, I say “we” but I probably mean me… we keep things bottled up like a good whisky, but sometimes, just sometimes by doing that we might mistakenly not realise what is inside the bottle. More importantly, do we actually care?

Maybe Not

Do I?

Do I think too much? Maybe.

Do I care too much? Possibly (read that as ‘yes!’) But I do care about what matters most in my life.

Do I stand on the sidelines and watch? Oh hell yes!!

I might have my quieter times much like the protracted one I am in now, and in these moments I find this always gives me time to have a little insight into the interactions of people and also the way those you might have thought of as ‘friends’ then act, or don’t.

I’ve been down, or is it sad? Probably sad, and feeling lonely… (being alone and being lonely are two different things too.) C’est la vie! Shit happens. Life is like that – well it shouldn’t be, but there it is, it is what it is.

A friend at work asked me how I was the other week, my “I’m okay (with tears spontaneously plopping down my cheeks)” warranted the “why is it I always have a habit of making you cry if I ask how you are?” My response was simple… “because when you ask it feels like you are actually asking how I am!”.

And…?

Anyway all of this got me to thinking, and I often wonder if this whisky community is the place it once was, if it was ever the place to be, and is it that friendly?

This place used to show more kindness and friendship…. It used to be more about the banter and laughs, not nastiness or point scoring (and I don’t mean the whisky!!)

As I was writing, this song came on and the lyrics are quite apt.. for me it’s the love of what is inside the bottle or inside the glass, the dreams of… whatever. Do you understand?

And in my mind, in my head
This is where we all came from
The dreams we have, the love we share
This is what we’re waiting for
And in my mind, in my head
This is where we all came from
The dreams we have, the love we share
This is what we’re waiting for

Dynoro & Gigi D’Agostino

I think to a certain degree it has changed, and then the question as to if it has changed for the worse?

I have shied away from things including social media on several occasions over the last 18 – 24 months or so, the reasons for this are mine and mine alone, but over the same period of time I have seen people be unkind and show animosity towards others…I see some trying to trip others up. I (and others) have been targets of a campaign of bullying (and yes I have the threatening email from one of them.  They just don’t like it when you call them on it!!) And yes some of their ‘acquaintances’ have basically blanked me from that point. I could ask them why they don’t talk anymore, but I guess like so many other things in life I’m just too tired to care… I do always wonder though that if it was them that were the targets how they would have reacted? I am only mentioning this again because it is still apparent that some of those opinions still hold true and very few of you actually realise the damage it caused!!

Whisky events should be fun. Yet, there have been times when I was aware someone was giving me (therefore presumably others) dirty looks, I expect that was because they didn’t realise I was watching them (doing it), or when someone constantly walks in front of you as if you don’t exist (but believe me I do)… then to top it all they play nicely in public because I imagine they have to be perceived as being “nice”…

For the record:

Nice has manners

Nice doesn’t judge people on their appearance

Nice is kind, courteous, and friendly

We should remember that life is so very short and somewhat fragile.. surely we should enjoy it instead of causing angst!! Me, I like the simple pleasures of life, I love seeing the day break with a beautiful sunrise, and the day drawing to a close while looking at the stars, but that feels like it shouldn’t matter. It does though. It matters a lot. I have a heart full of love. I love the countryside, nature, talking, losing myself in a special dram… a lot of us do. Anyway, I am just being me.. love me or hate me! I should also speak my mind more, yes this can get me into trouble (and that’s not all in a negative way!), but I’m just being me, however perhaps a more guarded me.

I did have a few people read between the lines over the past little while, they probably got an insight into the way I am feeling. I am so grateful for the time they took to check up on me and for listening… Ordinarily I am the one worrying about everyone else, asking how they are, or if there was anything I could do to help. I think my brother hit the nail on the head a few weekends back after a long chat, he said “I don’t know how you did all of that sis?!” Neither do I to be fair, but I am still here… I’m probably stronger than I give myself credit for?

Shhh…

Someone becoming still, quiet, stepping back or absent doesn’t necessarily mean they have depression. It could simply mean they need thinking time, a friend or a listening ear or just a good old hug, you know, one of the ones where you hope it will make all the broken bits of you stick together again.

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They might even be gathering their strength to stand tall again.. yep all 5′ 5.5″ of it!! I guess what I am saying is that it is this: we all have hopes and dreams.

Shouldn’t we hold out a hand of friendship / support and assist others? Can’t we see that we all have things we need to fix, remedy, heal from, achieve etc. etc. no one truly knows what another is facing… Stop the petty one-upmanship, evidently not all will agree with you / your style of delivery or whatever, it doesn’t make you wrong it just means your audience likes what you do. Stop bullying people. Stop being prats. Speak up. Be proud… 

Fucking keep on fighting for what you love!!

I know I will!!

So…

…all in all some of it has changed, but those that stay true, they are the ones I will call my friends. I’m hoping my confidence will return, I might even look at my timelines (because I’m not really doing that either) and actually have the guts to come back properly again… 

Inside the Bottle – the Contents 

Inside the Bottle: Dreams and Wishes 

All I know is this…

dreams can come true, and

wishes can come true….

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A Trip to Speyside…

A Weekend Away

So, I fancied a weekend away, and after I had seen people “raving on” about the Spirit of Speyside I thought I would see what the fuss was all about…I would attend a few events.

Friday 3rd May

A cold but dry start from my house, yet just as I entered Morayshire the weather changed to hail, then as I was about to drop into Duffotwn it started to snow… Well we all know Scotland usually has four seasons in one day, this was starting it off in style!!

First stop was Glen Moray for a hearty breakfast and a dram (plus a tour.) The older gentleman beside me and his companion shared my dram between themselves as I was driving, and they accepted it with gratitude. After purchasing a bottle of whisky I left as the group were heading for their tour…

I then took myself for a little drive to Glenfarclas. This was a whistle-stop drive as I really wanted to get myself the festival bottling…which I managed to do, while I was there I bumped into my whisky brothers, hard to miss as they pulled up next to me in the car park. Yes it was Jon, Tom, Adrian and Steve so I popped into the visitor centre with them and then joined them in Aberlour for a bite of  lunch and a catch up, albeit very briefly. It’s nice to meet good friends… and I think they loved the Bruichladdich Black Art truffles!!

Later that afternoon I went to BenRiach Distillery for the warehouse tasting with Rachel Barrie. What a lovely warm welcome!! It was nice to see Stewart Buchanan too. This tasting was held in Warehouse 13, and while the wind / hail / sleet rattled the roof and attempted to distract us, we sampled whisky!! I’m say sampled…I was driving so they came home with me.

The next day I was up with the larks again… today was Balvenie!! Whoop whoop!

Saturday 4th May

I was met by Charles at Balvenie. A coffee and introductions done (there was me, a man from London, another from Japan, a man, then a father and two sons all from the USA) we went on our tour…

There was nothing on the malting floor, but this allowed us to see the scale of the area. The kiln etc. had a slight warmth in the stones from their much much earlier use.

Then we continued our tour through to Warehouse 24, where I was asked if I’d used a dipping dog before…apparently I looked quite capable. I do think that’s a good thing!

We then had a tasting before heading to one of the private homes to enjoy a three course lunch before it was time to say our farewells and head our separate ways. I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t able to visit the cooperage this time. I know we had a meal, but I had been looking forward to the cooperage.

Afterwards I went for a walk at Craigellachie bridge and went and found Glenrothes distillery, this has to be done.  And that was that. A quiet and early evening and up early to drive home on the Sunday.

To those that took the time to chat… thank you