I couldn’t feel my toes.
This is why we don’t do flights of whisky. Because by the time we finish the fourth dram (or in this case, fourth ounce) we can’t feel our toes. It’s just too much.
I’d made some decisions that led to this moment, such as settling for ice cream (whisky flavor) for lunch rather than something more substantial. Something with more mass, perhaps some carbohydrate, would have slowed the absorption a bit.
Still, I had given half of the second dram to Janet, who liked it more than I did, and I was still feeling the flight strongly.
Blair Athol distillery was our last stop for the trip. They didn’t offer tastes, and we didn’t have a tour, so instead we took our seats at the bar and ordered. Some of the group ordered mixed drinks, but Denis (another name!) and I decided we wanted a whisky flight, to see what they had to offer.
The flight was at least twice the volume of any tasting we had done previously, and all of them were served, appropriately, neat (to which we might add just a few drops of water). Honeslty, it seemed like more than an ounce.
The second pair of whiskies in the bunch totally outclassed the first two, but were also the most expensive, and definitely more than I was willing to spend for a 700 ml bottle. Even had I wanted one, it wasn’t going to happen, as my suitcase was already overfull, with two more bottles acquired today.
And what a day it was. The morning had started bitterly cold, with Shona admitting that the house needs new heating, which is due to come in October. Still the full Scottish breakfast (with haggis) was quite good, the tea warmed me up, and the plums from her garden were delicious.
The morning’s first stop was at Dalwhinnie, where we were rushed inside, because we were already running behind schedule. “Behind schedule” meant our bus pulled in and parked in the lot adjacent to the whitewashed buildings shortly after 10 am.
Within, the tasting was scripted and well planned, pairing the whiskies with various chocolates. We haven’t done any food pairings before, so this was nice. The originally planned third bottle wasn’t available, so they substituted in the “Distillery Exclusive,” which was quite delicious.
Rob, our guide there, tried to talk me into a small bottle of 30 year old, but at £700 I suggested I shouldn’t buy something I haven’t tasted. He didn’t fall for this so I politely declined, settling, instead on a bottle of the exclusive (that’s 3 bottles).
This was followed by lunch in the town of Pitlochry. Neither my Canadian friends nor I was especially hungry, so we all settled for a scoop or two of delicious whisky ice cream made in town. While there we also visited a local store and I was able to find one of the bottles I’d tasted in Edinburgh. I had been actively seeking this one out, so my suitcase was now full at 4 bottles.
This is a new record for me. I’ve brought back bottles in the past, but have limited it to 3, which best fits the structure of my suitcase. But, after much debate, I decided there would likely be room for one more.
The afternoon was led by the trip to Blair Athol, which wasn’t very far from town. This distillery also marked the end of whisky tasting for the trip, although we pulled off to stretch our legs one final time on the long drive back to Edinburgh, getting out of the bus long enough to use the facilities and say hello to a Scottish Highland Cow.
He was very friendly.
When we finally pulled into the Edinburgh bus station, we said our goodbyes, wishing each other the best, and Bruce (the bus driver/guide) handed us our bags. I carried my bags with me to my hotel before crossing town to collect the small suitcase I had left back at the hostel.
The first thing I did upon getting the suitcase to my new hotel was to test the packing and ensure that my bottles would fit. And I breathed a sigh of relief, and felt a rush of triumph, when I found that they did.
Afterward, under pink clouds I crossed the university to find, one final meal in Edinburgh.
There should be no question that I had one more delicious plate of Scottish fish and chips at a pub called Doctors. This was all I needed before the real packing would begin.