Ah, summer vacation. In childhood, we couldn’t wait for summer to romp and play, no worries of homework or responsibilities. During high school I worked, dated, partied, hung out with my friends, and traveled both Europe and the States with my family. Fresh out of college, I worked, too broke to afford to travel, until my honeymoon in France, which was fabulous and full of vigor but we were still too broke to eat or drink well. Twenty-something years later, now in middle age and trucking along our teenagers, vacation time is precious and the difficultly is making a calendar that suits our various needs.
Scotland. We escaped to Scotland, getting away from the summer heat of New York to the cool, rainy highlands and dark, foreboding castles. Or so we thought, until we arrived and found the highest heat index Scotland has had in 40 years. We had sunny days and sunburned bodies. Worn out from each day and a full itinerary, we’d collapse into a chair to review the dinner menu, and I’d search for something wonderful to drink. And so I searched.
Glen Coe. I could not have felt more at home in these highlands.
A local on his way to work.
Deacon Brodie’s Tavern, Edinburgh
Maybe you’re laughing. Was I too naïve, thinking I might find a lovely wine to accompany my travels in a land known for ‘whisky’ (that’s how they spell it, without the “e”) and warm beer served in public houses?
Perhaps I was. But I managed to drink wine most nights, regardless.
A popular attitude in Scotland. The sign reads:
“Friendship is like Whisky, the Older the Better
Too Much of Anything Is Bad, But Too Much of Good Whisky Is Barely Enough”
I was thrilled when we arrived in the town of Oban (pronounced: ‘OH-bun’, not ‘oh-Bahn’), for they have the famed Classic Malts of Scotland distillery of the highland malt of the same name. Tours were plentiful and cheap, plus they keep offering you opportunities to taste the wares. Who am I to refuse?
Since 1794, this famed distillery has been the center of town. What can I say? I’m a fan. The Oban malts are in very high demand worldwide, and given the attention to detail and the
Oban’s namesake 14 year Single Malt (twice distilled and matured in second use bourbon barrels)
and Distiller’s Edition (finest of the 14 year selection is then matured a second time in sherry casks).
Shown with two “proper” Glencairn tasting glasses, the dram and pour.
I loved the “Oban Whisky & Fine Wines Shop” across from the distillery. They did have wines I recognized, but in the same relation to the whisky as shown in the circle on the wall, demonstrated below. Perhaps a quarter of their inventory was wine.
The Oban Whisky & Fine Wine Shop. Here, it’s quietly suggested that you purchase the whisky.
I found my answers (and my options, many were good) and enjoyed our travels to sunny isles and castles, lochs and churches. I drank cool ciders when the wines were scarce or suspect, and visited distilleries to taste the local whisky. Some nights we ate like the locals in the evenings, thought we tended to stay with fish & chips and not the favored haggis. We requested & took the local recommendations for food, seeking out (much to our surprise) small Italian restaurants to provide all of us with perfect comfort food and most importantly, good wines.
Our better meals were in small Italian restaurants like this one, which sat 27.
Thanks to #WBC14 I had recently tasted more wines from regions of Italy, Portugal, Greece, even Croatia, so I had an eye for more than just the popular Vinho Verdes, Barolos and Montepulcianos, or the wines of northern Italy and the Alto Adige that I adore, especially Lagrein.
The rare heat was perfect to drink sparkling wines, sparkling and still rosés, and on the coolest night I splurged for one rare Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo that I couldn’t resist. Most of my choices, like this lovely rosato pictured below, cooled our bodies, refreshed our palates and cut through salads and sauces, leaving us satisfied, happy, and ready to continue our journey.
One of my favorite wines from the trip, Bortomolio Rosato Frzzante- crisp, dry, delightful.
While I didn’t discover a great many new wines to share, the post-#WBC14 break for my palate allowed me to enjoy the local spirits helped me to indulge in the Scottish experience, returning refreshed and ready to explore all new wines to share with you in the near future. Until then…
à votre santé!
and a few more shots from Scotland:
“Water was either suspect or in short supply here. We suggest you drink the whisky.”
“Would you care for a sense of entitlement with your morning beverage?”
The Oban Distillery tour was incredibly informative. A shot prior to barrel tasting!
Sunset, Port of Oban
Urquhart Castle Ruins on Loch Ness
a relaxing opportunity to cool my heels and enjoy Loch Lomond
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Where have you journeyed lately, and what did you drink on the way?