A couple of days in the promised land

I just returned from a couple of days in Scotland with some of my best friends. And by ‘just’ I mean that our plane landed not three hours ago.

The misses and the kids are still on their way home from a few days with friends in Zeeland, so I’ve got some quiet time for blogging (and doing laundry) and trying to figure out a way of justifying the ridiculous spending of the week.

Anyway, we visited some distilleries, had some whiskies, had a lot of beers and went to the SMWS in Leith. I hope to blog about the distillery visits in more details over the coming days, but the general impression post is this one.

To accommodate five booze loving Dutchmen, I rented a cottage in Findhorn, right on the coast. The cottage was pretty awesome, about three times bigger than I expected and ridiculously cold. Heating, for some reason, was set to a timer to only operate during breakfast and from five in the afternoon till bed time. There was no way to change that.

That meant that when we arrived just before the boiler kicked in, it was about 8 degrees celcius in the house. Anyway, heating kicked in, and we headed to the the Crown & Anchor for food anyway (Fish and chips: check). The house had time to catch up. The pub was nice too. Not even that quiet for a town of 900 people, the food was nice, and they had some great beers available.

What was extra nice is that the house was right on the coast of Findhorn Bay, which is ridiculously beautiful. We didn’t get too see it all that well yet, since it was dark at about 4.30. We tucked in at about 9.30 since, for some reason, we were all exhausted from the trip there.

We visited Balvenie and Benromach on Thursday and had awesome tours by David Mair and Keith Cruikshank respectively. Also, tastings were done, obviously.

That day we decided to eat in to keep costs to a semi-maintainable level, and cook up about three pounds of steak for the five of us. And have beers. A lot of beers. We played Cards Against Humanity and sat around catching up on each other’s recent lives. We don’t get to see each other all that often. Bedtime was 1 AM. The night was good.

On Friday we went to Glenfarclas and Tomatin, which are two distilleries at the opposite ends of quaintness. A great combination to do those two on the same day since it gives you the full spectrum of the distilling industry in Scotland.

A side of salmon was dinner with (no surprise) beers. It might be surprising that we didn’t drink that much whisky in the cottage. We watched a movie and had loads of fun, in a way we used to have about a decade ago. Apparently we never grow up.

Saturday was spent cleaning the cottage, and driving back to Edinburgh. We then went to the Brewdog bar there, which was awesome. Lunch was pizzas and pies, and some really good beers. Then, right after lunch we went for dinner at the SMWS Vaults in Leith.

Those Vaults. Go there. Become a member and go there. It is brilliant. Another post on this will follow.

Conclusions of the rather long weekend in Scotland are:

  • It is very easy to spend way too much money there
  • Whisky is awesome
  • Beer is awesome
  • Going away with friends should happen more often
  • I love Scotland
  • The SMWS in Edinburgh is awesome
  • Touring distilleries is about more than hearing how whisky is made. Asking questions and focusing on the individuality of the distilleries is really interesting.
  • I want to go back to Scotland ASAP.

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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