Whisky @ Scotland

JULY 8th, 2007 [Sunday]

After that depressing tour of that ruin of a palace, it was time for the main event of the day. I promised you it would be something infinitely happier. Well, maybe not you, but certainly to me and my entourage.

You see, haggis is the national food of Scotland, but there is another thing that is extremely famous in Scotland. It is the national beverage of Scotland I suppose. It is the whisky!

This was another advice from our seniors. They told us that when we go to Scotland, we must look for any whisky distillery and at least get a whisky tasting session there.

And so I searched for a suitable distillery that we could visit. I was the one who made the travel plans, so even before we came on this road trip, I knew we would somehow end up in this region around Inverness. So the distillery had to be in this area. Turned out there were hundreds of distillery within a 50 miles radius of Inverness.

You see, basically all whiskey distillery will have some sort of brewery tour and whisky sampling tour, but at a price. It is up to you to look for what you want, either the most comprehensive, or the cheapest. We ain’t no whisky experts, and we were poor, so we had to select based on the price.

That was how I booked a whisky sampling session for all 15 of us with the Tomatin Distillery, 12 miles to the southeast of Inverness. They offered the best price out of the hundreds that I have checked: £0. Free. Of. Charge.

Distillery tip: Distilleries usually have whisky sampling + tour, but on Sundays, the production facility will be closed so there would be no tours, just drinks.

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And… it was a Sunday when we came. So we did not get any tours. What we got was to visit their shopfront.

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We were greeted by a manager who proceeded to explain to us the history of Scotch whisky, the history of Tomatin Distillery, the type of whisky that they specialize is, bla bla bla. I don’t remember most of what she said.

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Apparently even with whisky, there are many types of it, and what Scotland is famous for are Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. The keyword here is Highland. Apparently they use a special breed of malt that only exists in the Highland regions of Scotland, and apparently it makes the whisky taste much more awesome.

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After the briefing, we were ushered to a corner with some chairs and a TV to watch how they produce their whisky. It was not bad. I mean, if we could not get a physical distillery tour, then getting a tour on the TV screen is a pretty close alternative, isn’t it?

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And then it was time for the main event: whisky sampling. We were given two types of whisky to taste, the normal 12 Year Highland Single Malt Whisky, and something that the manager claim was Tomatin’s unique blend: the Culloden Cream. The latter was pretty special, it was whisky blended with chocolate.

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At this point of time I would like to teach you a Chinese proverb called 天下没有白吃的午餐 There is no free lunch in the world. To be honest, even though the explanation, the TV show and the tasting was free, it really didn’t seem appropriate for us to just leave after getting all those freebies. So before we left, of course we bought some stuff. I believe it was also partly due to having some alcohol in our brains already that clouded our judgement and made us spend money more easily.

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I bought one of those Triple Gift Pack. Most of us did. I think a couple of us even bought whole bottles. It is a box of three mini bottles of whisky, as shown in the picture above.

By the way, the Talisman and the Big T are special blends  of whisky by Tomatin too. According to the manager, they basically blended their signature Highland whisky with other type of whisky to create unique flavors.

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And by the way, now that I think about it, I think it wasn’t because we got free drinks that we bought stuff. I think even if you were to go on a paid distillery tour elsewhere, you will most likely still end up buying things. I mean, hey, this is Scotland’s local produce. It is a souvenir type of thing. Right?

Anyway, that’s the end of our whisky adventure. It was probably the most enjoyable thing that we have done in the road trip so far. No getting lost, no missing attractions, no disappointing ruins, no bullshit. Just come and get some Scotland history lessons and get something nice to drink and buy some souvenir. I have to say, it really was an activity that made us all happier for the day.

[to be continued]

24 Comments

  1. I have to point out that in Scotland it is spelt Whisky. Whiskey with an E comes from Ireland, and Scots people get very upset when you spell it wrong.

    • Gosh, I’m so dense! Thanks for pointing out! Let me edit my post, this is the kind of insensitivity that we should avoid!

    • You should try it at least once, some time. Then you can claim to at least “been there, done that”.

  2. Haggis!! Yes, I had that for breakfast almost everyday cos we were staying in Jury Inn Aberdeen then. Squarish type of “sausage” now I remember… Whisky tasting? I forgot the place I went but it was half an hour drive from Aberdeen.. must really dig back to see the name of the place.. 🙂

    • Hahaha the name of the place is not important if you are not a serious whisky lover. What is important is that you’ve been there and done that. 😀

  3. So does the highland whisky taste better than normal ones? Not a fan of hard liquor because the alcohol is too concentrated for me but I wonder if I can still stomach one if I go Scotland.

    • I’m not a fan of hard liquor myself. It was just a case of “do as the locals do”. Well the Scottish eats haggis and drinks whisky, so we shall do the same! At least that means we are more adventurous than those Europeans who refuse to eat durians when they come to Malaysia/Singapore! 😀

  4. Don’t drink….so wouldn’t know how to appreciate whisky! Lucky you guys bought some stuff, otherwise the distillery wouldn’t be very happy, I’m sure. So, did you guys finish all the whisky in Scotland or brought them home?

    • I don’t know about others, but mine I brought home. In fact that gift pack still sits pretty in my KL home! 😀

  5. I enjoyed reading this post as I had little knowledge about Scotch Whiskey. Once upon a time, I was leading a lifestyle like a drunkard who loved to challenge friends in yard beer drinking contests etc etc. I would drink anything that could get me tipsy and high every Friday at The Party Box in Uptown. The owners often sponsored me free jugs of Long Island as appreciation. Fast forward after my hospital surgery, I only drink good wines and whisky today when there is a happy occasion. I agree that the Scotch brand is the best compared to others! Holy Marcus!….. Burp…. Burp!

    • I don’t even know their differences, never mind whose best and whose not, hahaha! We just went for the experience. 😀

  6. I’ve heard that drinking whisky is Scotland is a very dangerous thing. You can easily get drunk when you don’t control your portions hehehe. Did that happen to you? If not, try Polish vodka!! :D!

    • Well, only in northern Scotland, the Highlands. Because that area is high altitude and cold, alcohol goes to your brain faster, so it is easier to get drunk 😛 .. We were just sampling a few tiny shots, so it was alright. LOL! 😀

  7. You made a good choice for the whisky tour = foc I did not visit any whisky place mainly because we travel using buses and trains.

    • I read that Glenfiddich is the best whisky in Scotland but when I drank some 20 years Glenfiddich at a friend’s house, I really could not appreciate the taste of whisky.

      • Hahaha same same lah, to people like us, whisky is whisky. Unless it is like that Culloden Cream, blended with something else, then we might have a better chance to feel the difference.

    • I guess it is too late for this advice, but you could’ve looked for a tour package from any cities in the Highland region (northern region), they will have vans or buses to ferry you to the distillery.

  8. errr, i am one who would probably not buy anything even if that’s the world famous local produce woh.. to me, tried there and be happy already.. no need to buy back home lah, if want then go there again to taste, it will be a more authentic experience, hahaha!! 😀

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