The Highlands are A-callin’ Ye

Posted on October 24, 2012


First of all, let me say that I’m genuinely happy for all Scotch lovers. With some Scottish heritage myself, it seems appropriate to embrace the time-honoured spirit with gusto and respect. I, however, can’t seem to make peace with the liquor no matter how I try. While I conjure up dramatic images of feudal Scotsmen doing battle on craggy highlands, in Braveheart-like fashion, kilts and sashes flying, brandishing mighty swords over an opposing clan, my Hubby’s mostly interested in which distilleries in Scotland produce his favourite Scotches. Even though he’s a Brit, I think secretly he longs to don a tartan, grow a wild mane like Mel Gibson’s, cuss in Gaelic, and party by a roaring fireside after the battle with a tumbler of Glendronach. Then again, maybe it’s just about the drinking.

And so it is with a bit of reservation that I’ve agreed to host a small soiree of Scotch tasting and appetizers as a pre-Christmas event. While my Hubby and his buddies are practically salivating over  the impending aromas of burning peat bogs and hints of barn wood soaked in musk, I am trying to comprehend the nuances of holding a “nosing and tasting” event. I have some experience with wine tastings, but please don’t ask me to hang my nose over anything that remotely smells like lighting our compost bin on fire – no way. Personally, I’m good with a lot of smoked meats and salmon, but that’s about where I draw the line.

Hubby’s stash of Scotch whisky

I’ve been to large Hopscotch Festivals in town where participants (aka booze hounds with pinkie fingers extended) are encouraged by local and international distilleries to taste, schmooze and learn about their products. For people who truly appreciate whisky, craft beer, Scotch and other fine spirits, those large gatherings are like letting me loose at a large, weekend flea market. Unfortunately, there’s no haggling at those festivals, just hangovers waiting to happen. With signage like “Meet Your Maker” found at a famous distillery’s exhibit, I was left wondering just how potent their product was! (As a designated driver , it made for a tremendous people-watching venue indeed.)

Back to the planning of the Scotch tasting party. In doing some research, I discovered that what you have as a food pairing is just about as important as the variations of Scotch presented. Apparently, lots of dark chocolate works quite well with burning peat bogs, as does strong, stinky cheese or oatcakes with the soaked barn wood. I liked the chocolate part – a lot. Does that mean I can support “the team” by indulging in wicked fudge brownies and 80% chocolate squares? (Question: So why is there a calorie count on chocolate bars but not on the labels of Scotch bottles? Unfair.) I’m planning some sinful treat for the designated drivers at our party so they feel special too – and no haggis in sight.

Home-based Scotch tastings are proving to be very popular world-wide. Hubby tells me that buying a good single-malt aged whisky is an investment, something to be shared with kindred souls, but it’s also a sophisticated comfort. In my mind’s eye, I can picture a few friends falling asleep after too many drams. I can also imagine much laughter and note-taking for the next tasting party. But I just can’t shake that image of Hubby Dearest wearing that Highland battle gear complete with sporran and nought else. Oh my dear!