Monday 15 October 2007 As we head north out of Edinburgh this morning, I am pleased to have another pair of
eyes to watch the map and routing. We discuss the intended road before leaving Edinburgh, up through Braemar. I realize
something is amiss as we approach Dundee, which is not on the planned route, and which in fact I've never been in before.
It all turns out okay with a change of plan, a visit to Dunnottar Castle and Stonehaven, but I find it necessary to sack
the navigator and resume responsibility for route-finding myself. The route from Stonehaven to Craigellachie is a pretty
one, a road I've never been on.
Ian Logan finds us in the Highlander this evening, and we arrange to meet him tomorrow. I have a Mackmyra Preludium 01, 4yo 55.6%, which I quite like. It's near the end of the bottle, so I think maybe the whisky's peculiarities have been softened a bit. I wander down to the Quaich Bar after Ron has gone to bed and have a Rare Malts St Magdalene 19.
Tuesday 16 October 2007 This morning we set out nominally to visit the Gordon & MacPhail shop in Elgin. We
take a roundabout route so as to photograph a number of distilleries, not all of them really very photogenic. I get shots
of Dailuaine, Imperial, Tamdhu, Knockando, and Cardhu. At G&M, we're more intent on browsing than anything. Ron has in mind
to find a bottle distilled in his birth year, 1967 (his 40th was less than two weeks ago), but he doesn't see anything
really suitable. The major purchase is a half-bottle of Cask Glen Mhor, which will serve as a roadie.
Ian picks us up in the afternoon, and with his help, we each acquire a fill-your-own at Aberlour. Signing the book, I note that the overwhelming majority of visitors choose the sherry cask, which I think is too bad. You can get similar in an a'bunadh, while the bourbon cask I had last year was just stunning, and unlike anything anywhere. I'm looking forward to opening this one.
After, we get to visit a couple of the more obscure plants in Chivas' portfolio--Miltonduff and Glenburgie--as well as Longmorn. None of these is very charming, being very functional facilities, but still, it's interesting to visit the various sites.
This evening in the Highlander, I have a Hakushu 1988/17, 56.0%. Two evenings in the Highlander without scotch whisky yet! I rectify that with a Chivas Bros CS Longmorn 17 at 53.6%.
Wednesday 17 October 2007 We set out to tour the Moray coast, and are twenty minutes out of Craigellachie
when I realize that I've left my camera in the room. Fortunately, I have a film camera in the car, the Canon EOS650 I
bought to use with infrared film. As well, I have five rolls of slide film which I brought as a hedge against camera
malfunction. Or stupidity.
We start in Pennan, where exteriors for Local Hero were filmed. Then Gardenstown, from where we walk along the cliffside trail to tiny Crovie. All of these are former fishing ports, terribly exposed to northern gales, and this day is in fact blustery and punctuated by occasional squalls. The fishermen's impossibly charming stone houses are now mostly holiday cottages. Gardenstown is big enough to be a real village, with a hotel and a few shops, including a bakery where we warm ourselves with scotch pies. Crovie is so small that you cannot drive into it--the houses are separated from the sea by only a narrow footpath. You might think any residents there would resent a pair of tourists walking along the path, gawking at their cottages, but the few we actually see greet us warmly.
In Banff, we find Parker's Whisky Shop--no easy feat, as it awaits a proper sign. The one there now reads "Parker's Gifts", and half the premises is taken up with t-shirts and crystal and such. The whisky side is small, but with an interesting selection, and we are very pleased to be able to engage in a lengthy blether with Richard Parker himself. I am more pleased yet to find that the name Mr Tattie Heid is not strange to him. Whether it's that that leads him to offer us a sample of his Pert Mellon bottling, stashed in a secret cache somewhere, I cannot say, but Ron is impressed enough with it to buy a bottle. My eye is caught by an Amrut cask strength, another oddity for my growing list of oddities.
We have a fine dinner at the Mash Tun in Aberlour before having a final few pints at the Highlander.
Thursday 18 October 2007 Bobby is standing in the car park at the airport in Aberdeen when Ron and I arrive
to pick him up. We visit the recumbent stone circle at Loanhead of Daviot before retracing our route back to Speyside.
Ian Logan meets us in the visitors' center at Glenlivet and shows us around. Ron and I were there last year, of course, but this is Bobby's first visit to Speyside. Eventually we retire to the library for a few splendid samples, including a Cellar Collection '69 and a 30yo. Mr Logan is a very kind and gracious man.
Back on the road, we stop to see Sueno's Stone in Forres. It's a twenty-foot Pictish carved slab, a thousand years old (give or take a century), with a Celtic cross and knotwork on one side and a depiction of battle on the other. Precisely which battle it is is a matter of conjecture. The sandstone is weather-worn, and the slab is now protected by a large plexiglass shelter.
We arrive in Fortrose, on the Black Isle, late in the afternoon, and take a walk out on Chanonry Point before checking in at the Anderson. Jim Anderson is another gracious fellow, and we enjoy a fine meal, along with splendid pints and drams from the Anderson's vast selection, before turning in relatively early. Bobby is jet-lagged, of course, and I didn't sleep well last night, and Ron seems to be a bit wiped out, as well. We can sleep in a bit tomorrow before heading to Ullapool.