A toast to Andy Millard on the very Wonderful Whisky Chaser. Well done to Oz once again for organising a splendid outing with a fine selection of interesting whiskies to taste.
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Peter Buchanan’s blog here.
So…we got lucky! The weather forecast on the gogglebox on Saturday morning looked decidedly dicey, so I was glad I’d been out in the clag the weekend before to recce a poor weather option; fewer summits and more hiding behind bits of wall and in copses, essentially. But by the time Phil and I went out for the stashing run things looked pretty promising, and that’s how it stayed.
Following a brief flounder in the muck of a bog (there’s a reason it’s called Boghall…), we were back at the Steading in time for a loosener (Harviestoun’s “Broken Dial”) as the rest of the posse filtered in. Even Matt G managed to be nearly not too late, and we headed off on the traverse towards Boghall, before stopping for our first delicacy. The Bailie Nicol Jarvie is a lovely mellow dram – “Age with Honour” proclaims the label, making this our Digby whisky. Nick usually has the finest drinking receptacle on the Chaser with his fantastic wooden quaich, but he had some rivals this year as Fi was sporting a beautiful wooden creation (mug is nowhere near sufficient to describe it) and both Phil and Elly were supping from gleaming silver Cateran Trail quaichs.
On over Boghall burn and up towards Woodhouselee, our second whisky was an independent bottling from Clynelish in the far north of Scotland – not a distillery I know well, but this was a beauty – complex but not difficult and I think both Gordon and I made it our favourite of the day.
Up and out of the trees, the panorama opened out dramatically as sunlight washed over the distant Moorfoots, interspersed with swathes of scudding slate-grey stormclouds. Fortunately they kept their distance and could be admired rather than appreciated. There was a bit of a shock on arriving at the top of Castlelaw, when the view to the southwest revealed the end of Glencorse reservoir to be mudflats, with a few hippos wallowing lazily in the muck. Presumably the prolonged arid spell we’re going through has taken its toll. It was also pretty breezy, so we dropped back to find some shelter for the Kilkerran. I have to admit to being worried about this one – I thought it had been a tad raw when I tasted it beforehand, but some genius (was it Joel? – yes, Ed) tried adding a drop of water and it completely transformed the whisky.
Turning for home we made our way over to Allermuir, collected a Young Phil and prepared ourselves for “The Islay”. Well there’s almost always one, and it almost always divides people. This year it was a Caol Ila – Peter found it pretty grim, Paul was a big fan, and the rest of us were somewhere in-between.
More storm clouds were gathering on the West Lothian plain so we headed off to Caerketton. Somewhere round here I became convinced that Mary’s multi-coloured strides were covered with little G, A, T and C’s of DNA, so I was somewhat disappointed to discover that they were actually something to do with hair-colouring. Not something I’m an expert on. Neither is DNA for that matter. Ah well. Matt J hurtled his way off Caerketton, volubly launching a stream of invective at every little uphill en route, and we collected Cap’n Helen before finding a relaxing spot on the north side of the Hillend fort for our final snifter.
The Tamdhu came in a spectacular bottle with a multi-sided solid glass base, something I was not entirely unaware of since the corners of that solid base had been jagging into my right hip for the previous 5 miles. A sweet Speyside, people took a little time to adjust following the Caol Isla but it seemed to slip down nicely. We raised our glasses to the absent Andy Millard and then hurtled down to the Steading for a feed.
Thanks to everyone for coming along – hope you enjoyed it! And particular thanks to Phil for taking the chance on the weather and doing a great job as a whisky mule again.
So…we got lucky…and it’s good being lucky!