The Whisky Chaser - Sat 5th March

After a pre-run bottle-stashing expedition on a cool but dry Saturday afternoon, co-conspirator Andy and myself were dragged away from the fire and comforts of The Steading by a good turnout of 24 merry (and soon to be merrier) Carnethies, along with 2 Canine-ethies.  Sartorial elegance of the day award was established early on, and went to Willie, running in a kilt, with a slightly bizarre, deer-stalking-esque titfer perched atop his bonce.
We set off up towards Hillend, then broke left to follow the path along the fenceline towards Boghall, and after just over a mile, a rummage under a fir tree revealed our first delicacy - a 19 year old whisky from Littlemill, a closed distillery which used to be near the Erskine Bridge.  A classic Lowland malt - exceptionally soft, smooth and light, and a wonderful warm-up.  The first stop also revealed the fantastic array of whisky-drinking receptacles brought along, from shot glasses to thimbles, and quaichs to tumblers...or plastic half-pint pots for good (literally) measure.
 littlmill glasses
Onwards we trotted down to Boghall Farm, then up the lower slopes of Woodhouselee Hill, and just before we broke out of the top woods, our second treat awaited us - a tasty, sea and salt-inflected Old Pulteney, from the most northerly distillery in mainland Scotland.  When it was briefly left sitting on the ground, Ben (the dog) wasn't shy in coming in for a snifter of the fine spirit, but fortunately he wasn't interested in a dram...
Buoyed by the good weather, and fine fuel, we headed up to Castlelaw - the only peak in the Pentlands which Euan hadn't climbed, and which Adam accurately described as having the best view in the range.  True to form, it was superb in the soft, late-afternoon light, and there were several "Sláinte"s, as we raised a glass of 10 year old Aberlour, a smooth and flavoursome Speyside whisky.
 aberlour group
However, it was the one spot during the day where we caught some breeze, so to avoid getting too cold, we didn't tarry long, but trotted over to the shoulder of Allermuir.  Tucked out of the wind close to the summit, we had a fantastic view of the sunset as we took in a peaty Ardmore from the East Highlands - pure bliss.  We also took the opportunity to rally together and offer sympathy to Bob, who chose this moment to confess that he doesn't like whisky...despite this affliction he took one (or perhaps five) for the club, and managed manfully to join in the tasting at every stop...
 ardmore nick
Everyone seemed too mellow to move, but judicious application of a metaphorical spatula prised everyone off the hillside and along to Caerketton, then down to the fort, for our final whisky...and what a finish!  An awesome 17 year-old Springbank, at cask strength, packed with amazing flavours, and a gift to this year's Chaser from Arthur Harkes, to whom we all raised a thoroughly appreciative glass!
The final descent in the gathering gloaming passed at what felt like a sprint, then our tired legs and glowing faces made it back to the warmth of The Steading for rehydration (banana ale!?) and food - a great end to a cracking day.  So good in fact, that Shane (welcome back to running!) and Gio managed to share an additional fish supper between them.
Thanks to everyone for coming and making it such an enjoyable day out!  Same time, same place, 2012...???


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