Scotland Adventure: Day Four / Part 2


Our final destination for the day was the Isle of Skye’s only whisky distillery, Talisker.  About a 5 km drive from the Fairy Pools to the distillery, we were able to dry off a little, but we were looking forward to some tastings to help warm us up inside. 

I have always enjoyed Scotch whisky, since I was able to drink it. Malta being part of the British Empire/Commonwealth for over 100 years, many traditions were imported from the UK. The Royal Navy, RAF (Royal Air force) and British army has a long tradition in Malta and of course Scotch was brought over with the countless service men and women stationed there. My grandfather and father did serve at one time and they were very familiar with Scotch so of course they passed it down to me.  

However going to Scotland I discovered that Scotch is a lot larger that I previously thought.  Scotch is produced all over Scotland and can be divided into 6 whisky regions, Highlands, Speyside, Lowlands, Campbeltown, Islay and Islands.  Below are some brief points I discovered about each region thanks to Wineware Racks & Accessories – https://www.wineware.co.uk/decanting/spirit-whisky-decanters/scottish-whisky-regions-guide  . 

Highlands Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Highlands Whisky: Dalmore and Glenmorangie
  • Number of distilleries: Over 25
  • Typical Highland flavours: Fruit Cake, Malt, Oak, Heather, Dried Fruit and Smoke

Speyside Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Speyside Whisky: Macallan, Dalwhinnie, Glenlivet and Glenfiddich
  • Number of distilleries: Over 60
  • Typical Speyside flavours: Apple, Vanilla, Oak, Malt, Nutmeg and Dried Fruit

Lowlands Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Lowlands Whisky: Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie
  • Number of distilleries: Under 5
  • Typical Lowland flavours: Grass, Honeysuckle, Cream, Toffee, Toast and Cinnamon

Campbeltown Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Campbeltown Whisky: Glengyle and Springbank
  • Number of distilleries: Under 5
  • Typical Campbeltown flavours: Brine, Smoke, Dried Fruit, Vanilla and Toffee

Islay Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Islay Whisky: Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Bruichladdich
  • Number of distilleries: Under 10
  • Typical Islay flavours: Seaweed, Brine, Carbolic Soap, Apple, Smoke and Kippers

Islands Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Islands Whisky: Highland Park, Talisker and Jura
  • Number of distilleries: Under 10
  • Typical Island flavours: Smoke, Brine, Oil, Black Pepper and Honey

Once at the distillery we enjoyed a flight to help warm us up after that blustery visit to the Fairy pools earlier in the day.  A flight tasting is when you get a selection of wines or whisky’s to compare and taste the different selections.  We only had a couple of flights (about 6 different whisky’s) that we shared among our little group, though our driver only smelled and did not drink any. The best way I can describe the selection was that they had a very smoky tasting types of whisky.  However the one series of whiskies that they had that was interesting was a special collection of scotch designed and created for the Game of Thrones.  

Talisker is part of a family of whiskies owned by one distributor and they created a series of scotch whiskies to represent the different houses from the show Game of Thrones, each from a different distillery.  We also tasted a couple of the Game of Thrones whiskies including the Talisker’s brand representing House Greyjoy.  You can see the wonderful artistry for each house on each of the different bottles.  That alone enticed me into tasting them.  Again the best way to describe them was a very smoky taste with an after taste that was a bit spicy/ peppery.  

After all the tasting we were indeed warmer inside yet we still needed to return to our loggings to clean up, dry off and change into clean dry clothing. Yet upon reflection, today we used all five of our senses to experience Scotland.  We started off by viewing the mighty Cuillin’s and then the breathtaking Fair pools.  We then felt and heard Mother Nature’s powerful presence with the 90 km/hr. wind gusts and driving rain, aka “Bar Code rain”.  Then finally we enjoyed the wonderful smells and tastes that Scotland has to offer with her world famous scotches.  Wherever I go, I always stop occasionally to “Stop and smell the roses” as they say.  This day we did all of that and more.  I could think of no better way to spend our last full day on the Isle of Skye then to see, hear, feel, smell and taste what Skye and Scotland truly had to offer.  A wonderful experience, that I would not change in the least.  

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Friday Two Cents: A New Experience In Niagara


Christmas week for many people is a busy week.  Meeting with family and friends, preparing special meals and of course eating too much.  As a supply teacher this week is a welcome respite from the daily grind of working with students.  Not only teachers enjoy the time off, but also I have observed that students as young as kindergarten age needing this break in their routines. 

On that note I decided to get out of Toronto for a couple of days to help centre myself.  One of my favourite places to go to simply “get away from it all” is the Niagara region. They have many different diversions yet my favourite of them is visiting the local wineries.  I have been to a great many and this year I discovered a new winery that recently opened last year.  

At Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery

Opened in June 2017, Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery is in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region.  When you arrive you can see a modern building based on the design of a regional barn.  Inside though is a modern layout wonderfully decorated with photos of Wayne Gretzky’s hockey career.  Yet what impressed me was the skating rink just outside and behind the building. Beside the rink is a patio with a bar and a place to rent skates for both adults and children.  It was amazing to see parents and children skating around the rink while others sat at the outdoor patio bar with a hot chocolate. 
This is where the tour began and we were treated to home-made hot chocolate but with a special shot of cream whiskey that they make on the premises. It was delicious and a wonderful way to start the tour.  Nothing screams Canada more than hot chocolate outside in winter, beside a skating rink.  I know a lot about the wine making process, yet the tour was informative about how they make whisky and I learned a great deal. 
I asked the question, “Why do we spell whisky with a ‘y’ and others spell it with an ‘ey’?”  His answer was countries without and ‘e’ in their name use ‘y’ and those with use ‘ey’. Examples include Canada & Scotland ‘whisky’; United States & Ireland ‘whiskey’.  Yet another also mentioned that it might have something to do with immigration. This by the way is my theory when I asked the question.  Many Scottish people migrated to Canada and thereby we use whisky like them. Alternately a lot of Irish migrated to the USA who uses whiskey. 
Whatever the reason you cannot deny the results.  I am more of a wine and scotch drinker but I do enjoy a good Canadian whisky, which Wayne Gretzky’s whisky is up there with the best of them. If you are ever in the Niagara region I recommend a visit and of course, ‘a wee dram’, you know for the vitamins.  Enjoy!!

 

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