By: Blonde Two
Having accidentally booked a holiday in the nearly Cairngorms (a most fortuitous action), I discovered upon our arrival that I had equally serendipitously booked the same holiday in the middle of a rather well known whisky trail.
Now I am not a great whisky drinker and certainly not an aficionado, but you just can’t escape the water of life if you are anywhere near Speyside. Whisky is made (several tours have left me a self certified expert) of three things: spring water, malted barley and yeast. Glen Fiddich only uses water from the same stream ‘The Robbie Dhu’, which has been used right from their first days.
In the mornings, when I opened up the cottage for a sniff of fresh (so fresh) air, I could smell whisky in the air and taste it in the water. This doesn’t mean that the air was polluted, it was the peat; everything was infused with it, eventually I felt as though I was also infused with it.
Single malt is definitely an acquired taste but I did a good job of acquiring it during the distillery tasting sessions. They tell you to look for lots of odd flavours; strawberries, wood smoke, Brussel sprouts (I made that one up), sometimes you find them but more often you don’t. What sold the stuff to me was the skill, the history and the vocabulary that are so much a part of how it is created (for single malt is definitely not manufactured).
There is are ‘mash tuns’ and ‘washbacks’, there are ‘draffs’ (tell you about them tomorrow), there is ‘grist’, there is the ‘marrying cask’, there is ‘wort’, there are ‘low wines’ and there is the ‘angels’ share’. I will leave you to look up what they all mean if you are interested, but for a while, I was lost in the magic of it all.
I have come home with my own bottle of single malt; chosen because approximately five seconds after you have swallowed the first mouthful, you can taste the harsh tang of wood shavings. No summer fruits, lemon peel or vanilla for me, my palate was obviously having a rebellious moment.