The Clansmen Unite for an Evening of Scotch

Posted on December 2, 2013

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Laird of the Manor House

Angus McDuff, Laird of the Manor House

I am delighted to report that our Second Annual Scotch Nosing and Tasting Party was another success, being celebrated on (appropriately) St. Andrew’s Day, November 30th. Each guest was greeted by “Angus McDuff, the Laird of the Manor House” (aka Hubby) and myself, his Lady. I don’t think anyone was truly expecting the wild, ginger-haired, crazy Scotsman with a tartan tablecloth/wrap and tam greeting them as they entered the party. His natural beard only added to the persona of a seasoned, nutty, Highland braggart. It was a hooooot!

We added another couple of friends to the guest list this year as well, bringing the tally to fourteen Scottish wannabees, whether they legitimately had Scottish roots or not. Each couple created their own “clan” name, competing for trivia quiz points and door prizes, just like last year’s event. With a variety of comfort foods and appetizers being regularly shuttled out of the kitchen between a couple of Scotch tastings and trivia quizzes, our guests were amused with the sharing of creative and “edgy” guesses that surfaced. The fact that a lot of half-marks were given for the most outrageous (and certainly incorrect) answers, was not lost on anyone as the number of drams of actual Scotch increased over time. Hubby, of course, regularly gave verbal bulletins as to which clan was in the lead and the points tally.

Surprisingly, several of last year’s participants failed to recall some of the answers to some of the simpler questions from last year’s trivia quiz like: What is the national animal of Scotland? Answer: the unicorn. No, it’s not the haggis, but it’s just as about as elusive. And, I’m getting to how the haggis played a part in the evening’s entertainment …

Hairy haggis

Our handmade version of a hairy haggis – cute!

Just as small children get restless after a time of repetitive activity, we gave our clansmen and women a “time-out activity”, to get them moving from eating and drinking. Our solution? –  a scaled-down version of haggis hurling. (No really, it can be done!) Using some homemade “targets” (Highland bagpipers hanging from tartan ribbons) and our summertime ladder ball toss frame, each clan took turns tossing (hurling) a small, hairy “haggis” at the targets in hopes of being rewarded additional points towards the evening’s score. (Warning: do not even think of trying this game as an indoor sport with a real haggis – eeeeew.) We set up the “hurling corridor” in our front entry/foyer where the Highland Games gallery could view the activity from the adjoining staircase. There were a couple of apprehensive guests who weren’t entirely pleased with handling the hairiness of the little, soft creature. Others adopted a fearless, bowling technique which landed them with the maximum allowable points for the game. Mostly, it was a lot of fun seeing whether anyone could hit the bagpiper targets instead of Angus standing behind the ladder ball frame. Silliness never gets old.

And just when everyone thought they’d nosed and sampled just about every Scotch in the evening’s arsenal, out came the dessert finale of Tipsy Laird (again, appropriate for more reasons than just the traditional dessert for Robbie Burns’ Night celebrations). Similar to an English trifle that uses sherry to marinate the sponge cake layer on the bottom, along with layers of Jello , fruit, custard and whipped cream,  the Scottish version uses sherry and Drambuie to saturate the sponge cake, then layers of raspberry jam, bananas and raspberries, custard, then liquor-infused whipped cream and toasted almonds.  Honestly, Hubby out-did himself with its creation (first time experiment too!), and everyone gushed at how delicious (and yes, boozy) it was. Our grown kids requested we make another one for our family Christmas dinner. So, amazing …

Tartan sheep

Ever see a tartan sheep?

In the end, a new clan won the top prizes for the evening, namely a travel magazine all about Scotland and a boxed presentation of mincemeat tarts laced with Glenfiddich. It was such a fun event to host, and a chance to do something out of the ordinary during the Christmas season with good friends. There’s already been rumblings out on the moors (driveway) that next year’s Scotch tasting party will be totally new, but with the same silliness that has always been at its core. I wonder where we can rent a couple of sheep and a bagpiper …? I’ll keep you posted.

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