More Photos from Mary
Bouncing down through the heather off Castlelaw, with the sweet toffee taste of Strathisla on the tongue and a lively wind nudging us about, I remember thinking, “I bloody love this event…”
But it could have been so different…two days ago the forecast looked grim – heavy rain and strong winds. We haven’t had to invoke the bad weather route for the Chaser yet, but it was looking pretty likely this year. Even as Phil and I went out mid afternoon to stash a couple of whiskies, it was a tad breezy in places, though on the plus side, the rain had stopped. And that turned out to be as bad as it got – the winds eased and the weather gods were kind to us again.
Controversy stalked the start of the event, with dark mutterings of disapproval at there being a Welsh whisky on this year’s list. Still, at least it wasn’t English, which would probably have led to me being lynched. A tradition has evolved that the first whisky is often something a bit different – we’ve had a clearic and a blend in the last couple of years, so Welsh “wysgi” seemed a good option, and pretty well everyone seemed happy with the gentle sweetness of the Madeira finish.
On and up towards Woodhouselee Hill, the multiple possible pronunciations of anCnoc caused debate, particularly between the Scots and Irish Gaelic speakers. Then over the top or around the summit for a regroup at the broken sink, just in time for the awesome sight of Al coming up over the brow in his full plaid!
This was our potential bad weather cut-off point, but all seemed good so we stuck to the script and hit Castlelaw for the sherried richness of the aforementioned Strathisla. A mere handful of miles from the Knockdhu distillery (makers of anCnoc), but a world of difference in the taste, much to Digby’s appreciation, though unfortunately not Bob’s, as I forgot to give him any…oops…sorry Bob!
The group spread out en route to Allermuir, but the canniest stayed close to Chairman Willie, who was bearing the next bottle. Matt and Neil found a great sheltered dip on the Edinburgh side of the hill for our Tullibardine Burgundy cask, which had a noticeable rose tint to it. Cody was impressed with the sheltered spot as well and happily noshed the toilet roll and contents already there, whilst the rest of us enjoyed some distant sunshine lighting up Leith.
With the day cooling off, it was a quick trot over Caerketton and down to another sheltered rocky hollow on the far side of the fort, for the peaty blast of an Islay Port Charlotte. The strongest whisky both in flavour and strength, it drank much more easily than its 50% ABV and was beautifully smooth, though it did seem to reduce Mary to a state where she was unable to say anything other than, “Hospitals! Hospitals!”.
All done, we dashed down to the Steading for a good feed and a blether by the fire… I’d been wondering whether the Chaser had run its course and should be retired so that someone else can create something in its place, but this suggestion met with mild disagreement, so it’ll be back in 2016…huge thanks to everyone who came and enjoyed it, and for the positive comments, and hope to see you at the next one!
And a final thanks to Phil H and Willie for helping carry whiskies up, and also Phil Y and Al for helping bring the empties back.
Whisky No1 – Penderyn 46% from Wales. A surprise and very nice indeed! Just to make sure, I had another one. Mmmm. I was right. And so to stop no. 2 in the trees near Boghall. Whiskies consumed 2, distance run 1.9m – breathaliser result: 100mg, way over the limit (which for those of you who don’t know, Mary, is 50mg in Scotland)!
Whisky No2 – AnCnoc 12yo 40% from Speyside. Another pleasant whisky to get us into the swing of things, and about which I remember little. Well I remember little of anything with much clarity from now on. And so to stop no. 3 huddling down in the heather out of the wind on Castlelaw. Whiskies consumed 3, distance run 2.9m – breathaliser result: well well, down to 90mg. Exercise is good for you!
Whisky No3 – Strathisla 12yo 40% also from Speyside and produced very close to the previous. In spite of rapidly failing senses this was a lovely complex whisky and very different to the AnCnoc. I may just possibly have had another one after chasing Oz down. He was not going to get away. And so to stop no. 4 somewhere or other. Definitely still in the Pentlands. Whiskies consumed 4 or 5, distance run 4m, some of it in circles – breathaliser result: 140mg. Now we’re talking.
Whisky No4 – Tullibardine 43% from the Southern Highlands. I have every reason to believe it was delicious. I know it was delicious. It WAS delicious. Mmmm! And so to stop no. 5, a haven in the gorse. A place to revisit. I liked it a lot. We saw the moon. Whiskies consumed 5 or 6, distance run 5.3m – breathaliser result: 150mg. Note to self. Don’t drive.
Whisky No5 – Bruichladdich 50% from Islay. The big hitter. Going out on a bang with a lovely peaty salty whisky typical of the isles. How yummy. A determined pursuit of Oz won me another snifter. There were toasts to Oz and the other genius who invented the run – Andy Millard. And finally back to the Steading for food and a steadier. Whiskies consumed 7 or 8, distance run 6m – breathaliser result: at this point the machine threw up it’s hands in despair. Numbers just don’t go this high so it settled for “HI”, and a lot of flashing; well a car with a big X over it. I don’t think it was a cheery greeting.
So what have we learned today boys and girls? I think we all know… Don’t miss next year’s Whisky Chaser!
– oh and it’s still reading 50mg this morning!