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SCOTCH WHISKY - SCOTLAND'S GOLDEN NECTAR

Scotch Whisky - Scotland's Golden Nectar

Follow whisky trails in Scotland, enjoy tastings in Scottish whisky distilleries, experience whisky flights in luxury hotels, savour Scotch whisky and food pairing menus, or simply chill with a Scotch single malt whisky on ice

Written by Linda Jackson


Whisky and cheese - what a combination!

With so many whisky distilleries in Scotland it’s only to be expected that ideas for whisky-related holidays simply flow from all corners of the country.

There is a Scottish malt whisky three-day trail in Speyside; special whisky bars; whisky tasting weekends; Scotch whisky one-day excursions from Edinburgh and Glasgow, and whisky tours in the Scottish Highlands and islands.

Whisky enthusiasts can join a ‘training school’ and immerse themselves in a world of whisky in Edinburgh; become members of exclusive Scotch whisky clubs; enjoy combined golf-whisky holidays; and have fun at one of Scotland’s popular annual whisky festivals. You’ll discover a whisky-infused spa treatment here; a whisky marinated soufflé there and, elsewhere, creative chefs preparing exquisite whisky and food pairing menus.

There’s obviously something very special about Scotch whisky.


Whisky for sharing

Talk to a whisky connoisseur in Scotland about the very being of Scotch whisky… about the flavour sensations, the difference between whiskies; the comparison of whisky blends and malts; of peaty, floral, fruity, and other aromas.

Soak up the warming explanations of smooth, fresh, rich, young, mellow, and countless other whisky elucidations.

When you hear how successfully Scotch whisky can be combined with food, events, golf, and even spa treatments, you can’t help but wonder - when it seemingly blends so well with everything - why there isn’t a breakfast version to pour on your cornflakes in the morning.


Dalwhinnie Distillery

“Everyone should give themselves a chance to enjoy whisky” says Maureen Stronach from Dalwhinnie Distillery: “Give it time to settle around the mouth, don’t drink it too quickly and don’t give up after one – there is a taste for everyone”. When you should drink what is very personal says Maureen who prefers to drink heavier and smokier malts later in the day and lighter ones earlier in the day.

If you’re a newcomer to the world of whisky Maureen suggests: “Start by nosing it without water to discover the aromas, then gradually add drops of water, tasting after each addition, to release more scents. Take your time, and savour every minute”. Expect citrus, light smoke, malt and honey scents from the Dalwhinnie distillery. 

For people passionate about Scotch whisky, and those who want to discover rare whiskies, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society offers opportunities for adventurers to savour single cask, exclusive limited edition whisky. The Society offers the widest selection of single cast single malt whiskies in the world. Mark van der Vijver from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society says "Each cask is individual and has its own personality and identity, never to be repeated.

The Society presents whisky at natural cask strength – around 50% to 60% alcohol" Mark adds "it's not watered down; we add nothing and take nothing away. It's taken straight from cask to bottle. It's quite adventurous and exciting". Voted 'Independent Bottler of the Year 2012' by Whisky Magazine, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society organises whisky tastings and dinners, can take whiskies anywhere in the UK, works with chefs to create exceptional dining and whisky menus and, together with Golf East Lothian, has just launched the '19th Hole': unique golf and whisky-themed events.


Whisky on The Royal Scotsman
 

Scotch Malt Whisky Society Ambassador

Hop on board The Royal Scotsman on a special Classic Whisky Journey by rail through Scotland in April 2013 and you can enjoy the company of a Scotch Malt Whisky Society Whisky Ambassador. Exclusive and rare malts can be sampled and discussed during a four-night experience; there are private VIP distillery tours, tasting and nosing sessions, traditional Scottish entertainment, and a specialist single cask whisky tasting in the luxury train’s Observatory Car.

Included are visits to the Speyside whisky region; Glen Ord Distillery (one of Scotland’s oldest); Glenlivet and Tullibardine distilleries. Non-whisky drinkers don’t fret… there are wonderful sightseeing alternatives and plenty of whisky substitutes.

Now to go completely off the rails, you will discover many whisky offerings in and near some of the best luxury hotels in Scotland. Here are some interesting whisky snippets…

The Old Course Hotel
St Andrews, Fife


The Old Course Hotel St Andrews
    

Indulge yourself with a ‘Bourbon on the Rocks Pedicure’ at Kohler Waters Spa at The Old Course Hotel St Andrews in Fife: it’s a nectar milk soak, bourbon-scented scrub and honey-glaze mask, plus foot and leg massage with whoopee white velvet Shea butter.

Regis, the hotel’s whisky connoisseur also suggests taking an ‘Outrageous Journey’; he says “it’s a great opportunity to try very expensive, old and rare half measures at £315 per ‘journey’. Alternatively be ‘Slightly Outrageous’ and sample the Lowlands, Speyside or Tullibardine Journey at £114”. Don’t miss the Road Hole Rocky either: delicious home-made marshmallows with Glenrothes whisky ice cream.


Inverlochy Castle,
Western Highlands


Inverlochy Castle
    

In the Western Highlands, Inverlochy Castle represents every whisky area in Scotland it can and offers around 100 whiskies from its trolley, including the most peated whisky in the UK (Octomore) and a selection of whiskies no longer in production.

William, the hotel’s whisky expert, can organise whisky tastings and whisky’ flights’ for guests on request too.

Inverlochy also boasts replica bottles of whisky copied from those discovered in 2007 in Shackleton’s 1907 Antarctic Expedition hut (released on its centenary).



Whisky at Crinan Hotel
    

Crinan Hotel, Argyll

The Crinan Canal in Argyll was once used by Clyde Puffers (small cargo ships designed to fit narrow canals) supplying necessities to the West Coast and islands; their return cargo was whisky, almost a seagoing ‘currency’ then (you can still see a Puffer based at the Crinan basin).

A good bottle of whisky would open the lock gates day or night 40 years ago. Talking of which Arty Crinan Hotel has many; the hotel was first to stock Bruichladdich whisky from the Isle of Islay. If you come across one of that distillery’s limited edition whiskies with a painting of the island on the label (painted by Frances Ryan of Crinan Hotel), it’s valuable.


The Marcliffe Hotel near Aberdeen

Cranachan, the traditional Scottish dessert made with whisky, is often on the menu for St Andrew’s Day dinners and Burns Suppers at The Marcliffe Hotel near Aberdeen.

Here you’ll find a specialised drinks list with informative descriptions of all stocked malts and blends (126 single malts).

    

126 single malts in the Bar


Greywalls Hotel in East Lothian
    

Greywalls Hotel, East Lothian

And with the mouth-watering Whisky Menu offered by Greywalls Hotel in East Lothian, it’s no surprise its Chez Roux Restaurant won the Scottish Restaurant Awards 2012 “Scottish Hotel Restaurant of the Year”.

Orkney scallops with orange & whisky sauce; chicken liver pate infused with Glenfiddich; Glemorangie whisky jelly, plus creative dishes with sauces that tantalize taste buds to distraction… such as whisky Madeira, Tomintoul whisky cream, peat whisky cream, and saffron sauce flavoured with whisky.

You can’t help but be speechless after just reading the menu.



Hebridean Princess
    

Hebridean Princess

Follow in the wake of Royalty on Hebridean Princess where, at the farewell gala dinner on each cruise, the Captain performs the Burns’ Address to a Haggis with Hebridean’s own Malt. A number of Scottish whisky distilleries are visited on various cruises, mainly Talisker, Jura and Ardbeg but also on occasion Bowmore, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Tobermory and Oban. In July 2013 there is also a classical music themed cruise which includes an afternoon tea recital in Laphroaig Distillery performed by members of ‘Cantilena Festival’ (an annual classical music festival on Islay).

The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire


Relax at Gleneagles in style
 

Intimate ambiance

Imagine heated leather sofas, cashmere throws, a fire pit, a warming dram… decadent isn’t it? Enjoy this luxury and ambiance at the Blue Bar (open by invitation only) at The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire where you can enjoy Johnnie Walker Blue Label, whisky cocktails and tempting canapés. The chefs at Gleneagles can create canapés to match any whisky selection; and intimate or group classic malt and double matured whisky tastings can also be arranged.

Knockinaam Lodge,
Dumfries & Galloway

Within its malt whisky collection in Dumfries & Galloway, secluded Knockinaam Lodge boasts a number of limited edition and hard-to-find bottles: there’s a 1966 Loch Lomond malt in a copper still decanter (number 89 of 250 produced); a no-longer available Knockdhu 23 (limited edition of 3,200 bottles); and a Benromach Glenlivet 17 (number 1,184 of 3,500) bottled by Gordon & MacPhail to celebrate the distillery’s centenary (1898-1998).

    

Knockinaam Lodge Whisky Collection

Pool House in Ross-shire

With around 250 whiskies in the collection at Pool House in Ross-shire, bottles are displayed on a rotating basis in the intimate whisky room.

In the collection are many rare whiskies dating from the 1930s to the 1960s.

The hotel is not far from Glen Ord distillery; customary tastings can be arranged there, plus tastings for ‘advanced’ groups interested in production techniques.

    

Rare Malts at Pool House


Torridon Whisky Bar
    

The Torridon Hotel, The Highlands

In the stunning Highlands of Scotland, enjoy a drizzle of whisky on your porridge at The Torridon Hotel; there are over 350 malts in the whisky bar including an impressive selection of Ardbegs (committee bottles) and many rare old malts. One of the hotel’s whisky experts is unusually a woman, Colleen - try one of her Smoky Martinis (glass rinsed in Lagavulin first), it will go down remarkably well.


Airds Hotel in Argyll

In the 18th century Airds Hotel in Argyll was a ferry inn; today it’s a cosy family-run hotel with a small snug bar boasting some notable whiskies, many collected by the owners on their travels, including a 21-year-old Blackadder raw cask from Bowmore: it’s a full bodied, full flavour whisky. Guests will find a complimentary decanter of whisky mac in their room on arrival; three very good distilleries nearby; and the option of morning porridge with a dram.

    

Airds Hotel in Argyll

This whisky article has only touched the very tip of a huge iceberg.  Whether you’re an adventurous whisky enthusiast with a thirst for more knowledge on the wort, wash, diastase, and patent still distillation; a whisky drinker who craves a tipple or two of single cask whisky, or whether you’re content with just a whisky on the rocks, head for Scotland – it is the home of whisky and a great destination for a whisky-themed vacation. You won’t be disappointed.

As for breakfast, forget the cornflakes and go straight for porridge drizzled with a wee dram of whisky … so very Scottish!


Whisky Links

The Scotch Whisky Experience

The Spirit of Scotland

Whisky Magazine


Whisky Festivals

» Glasgow Malt Whisky Festival: 17th November 2012

» Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival: 2nd - 6th May 6th 2013

» Islay Malt & Music Festival: 25th May - 3rd June 2012

Luxury Scotland
Tel: +44(0)1383 825 800 
Fax: +44 (0)1383 825 700
E: jeremy@luxscot.co.uk

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