“They may take our lives…”

UK

We’re ticking off the list of all things Scottish:
– climb a mountain
– see a man in a kilt
– eat black pudding
– go to a castle
– see Loch Ness (and look in vain for the monster)
– go on a whiskey distillery tour and drink single malt whiskey
– go to a pub (or two)
– freeze your ninnies off
– listen to bagpipey highland music

After driving along Loch Lomond (very pretty), we headed just north east of there to a very small town called Killin.

20120730-115017.jpg Blink and you’d miss it
We dragged ourselves up early in the morning and climbed to the top of Sron A’Chlachain (‘the peak that resembles a nose above the village’). It was a few k’s straight up to 1400ft. Good way to start the day before some warm Scottish porridge.

20120730-120049.jpg Chilly looking out to Loch Tay

20120730-120251.jpg Falls of Dochart Inn

Later that morning we headed up to Inverness. Apparently Inverness was “as good as it gets” on the evening we arrived, with glimpses of sun and weather just warm enough to get our pasty legs out. The following day, however, we were graced with a freezing wind and blustery spells of rain as we tried to explore the mystical Ness underdressed. There were some pretty substantial waves rolling through the Loch as we drove down it, diminishing our chance of spotting any ‘irregularities’. We opted out of the monster exhibition and, shamefully enough, we voted the tiny bakery with amazing super-cheap cupcakes the best thing about this famous spot.

Our first castle visit was on the edge of the water – Urquhart – which is more ruins than castle. It was abandoned after numerous attacks on it (mostly by a greedy clan of MacDonalds), and was then pillaged by locals for materials before the state took it over. What’s left looks cool with the Loch as backdrop but, like most of these places, they’ve had to stabilize and ‘edit’ it somewhat for the tourist machine. Looking forward to comparing it to the couple of others we’re visiting soon.

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Despite never having drunk whiskey (in my case at least), the tour of Glen Ord Distillery was a highlight. ‘Grant’ our very Scottish tour guide was most informative and had answers to all our additional questions. Some of the smells were putrid (think silage) and some were awesome (the very old barrels which had once held bourbon and sherry), but it was a fascinating process.

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Looking inside the enormous vats in the fermentation phase was cool – though if you sniffed it in too much the carbon dioxide level was killer to the nose. Unfortunately no photos allowed at this point.

20120730-121758.jpg Different stages of barley
My palate still doesn’t seem ready to enjoy the flavours of a fine whiskey yet, and to me it still just tasted like spicy icky rubbing alcohol or something… But one day if I happen to recognize the dried fruits, vanilla and ginger, then I’ll be knowledgable as to how they achieved it! Alex was stoked with the second variety he tried, which left a flavor in his mouth of having just licked an old piece of rustic wood. Yum?! He’ll give a more educational blog spiel on request.

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