A first on this blog: A guest post! When I visited Jon Beach this summer in and around his inn he agreed to do a guest post for me. Unfortunately, he’s been very busy writing his Whisky Sponge blog😉
I visited him with the idea to do some work in the Loch Ness Brewery and then hang around at Fiddler’s during the evening to chat about whisky all night long. Things worked out a bit differently, but here goes his report:
A call goes out on twitter for help in finding holiday accommodation in the Loch Ness area from Whisky Blogger Sjoerd de Haan (Stuart the Hun) earlier this year. My first thought was to recommend my sister’s holiday cottage to him as its good to keep things in the “family” and there was a chance of a kick-back from my beloved sibling (no chance). Meeting Stuart at last year’s Maltstock and knowing that he’s one of those decent Whisky Guys (they all are) I find out when he’s in the area and invite him to drop by for a chat and possibly a dram or two but mainly to marvel at his uncanny resemblance to TV funnyman Hugh Dennis.
Over the past few months I have been getting involved with Drumnadrochit’s Loch Ness Brewery collaborating with them and developing a range of Whisky Beers using freshly dumped Whisky Casks from various different distilleries. I remembered that Stuart was into beer as well as Whisky and have tasted some of his impressive home brewed beer previously at Maltstock. I thought that maybe he may want to do a couple of hours graft down at the brewery. Slowly the plan of him spending a day in Drumnadrochit working at the Brewery, Fiddler’s and doing some “Secret” stuff in my tasting room was hatched.
And so it came to pass that I picked Stuart up from the small hamlet of Abriachan early one morning. The fact that this small group of crofts in the hills above Loch Ness was a former hot-bed of illicit distilling I’m sure influenced Stuart in his choice of accommodation. No illicit distilling for Stuart though as I dropped him off at the brewery for a quick tour followed by a brief (too brief, I reckon) bit of work with one of the Loch Ness Brewery brewers, Alan. Unfortunately due to a change in circumstances I had to cancel Stuart spending lunchtime spreading the Dutch Whisky Gospel to Fiddler’s international clientele and anyway I had something interesting literally lined up for him instead.
May was a busy month for me as I had been helping to organise the legendary Broracademy Day up in Brora and Dornoch as well as escaping to Islay for the second weekend of the Feis Ile and International Port Ellen Day 2013. My trip to the Feis was fortunate for Stuart as I had procured a 2013 Lagavulin Feis Ile bottle for him, easy enough this year as Diageo had in their wisdom decided to release 3,000 bottles of this gorgeous liquid in a bid to keep Feis Ile visitors happy and stifle eBay sales. Well done Diageo, though this does not make up for the ludicrous pricing of this year’s Annual Releases! Previous to Stuart’s visit I had opened my bottle of Lagavulin and together with that I had some “Lagavulin of the North” leftover from the Broracademy tasting. So I thought to myself would he be able to tell the difference between the Lagavulin and the Brora, I had tried and it wasn’t easy. Along with these two drams I threw in another three, the stupendous “Whisky of Mass Destruction” Manager’s Dram Clynelish, the Master of Malt Maltstock Highland Park and a stale drop of Lidl’s Queen Margot Blend.
I’m pleased to report that Stuart was absolutely spot on with identifying all five of the whiskies in the line-up, even the Queen Margot. I have yet to read his tasting notes. Unfortunately Stuart had to get back to Abriachan before I could let him loose on our customers in Fiddler’s where I’m sure he could of increased our Whisky sales five-fold!
Since Stuart’s visit in June I have met up with again at Maltstock 2013 where we shared some of the recently bottled Loch Ness Whisky Beer Co. beers and caught up with the latest Whisky Gossip. Also Maltstock involved me having to repeat to everyone “No, I am not the Whiskysponge!” all weekend long.