Monday, 26 March 2012

Visiting Scotland... The Home of Scotch Whisky

It’s been a little while since Cara and I have taken a trip and we’ve been looking forward to going to Scotland since we arrived in the UK. So with the weather being unseasonably warm, we saw this as the perfect time to visit the UK’s north.

London can be such a chaotic city, so getting out to the rolling hills and fresh air of scotland was exactly what we needed. Cara was excited about seeing sights such as the William Wallace monument, which is in the town of Stirling (not far from Glasgow), along with one of the most famous castles in the UK, Edinburgh Castle. Me on the other hand, was looking forward to visiting a real scotch whisky distillery. Scotch distilleries in Scotland are like wineries back home in South Australia. They are everywhere. Too many to choose from in fact. We decided to visit the Glengoyne Distillery, just near Glasgow.

Glengoyne has been producing highland single malt scotch whisky since 1833. Although it has been said that whisky production in the region has been taking place for much longer. Due to heavy taxes on spirit production distilleries were forced to operate illegally, using the surrounding highlands and forests to hide their distilleries. Records show that up to 18 illegal distilleries were producing scotch in this region. So when the government finally passed an act in the 1820’s to reduce the fees and costs, many of these producers pulled together to form Glengoyne in 1833.

The name Glengoyne comes from the name “Glenguin”, meaning ‘Glen of the Wild Geese’. The distillery was originally called “Glenguin” until 1894 when the name was changed. The whisky itself has a distinctive flavour. It is one of only 2 distilleries that uses the ‘Golden promise Barley’ which is  high quality barley used to create whisky. This is blended together and distilled using the water which flows under the factory itself. Glengoyne is one of the few scotch whiskies not used peat smoke to dry their barley. They use only warm air. This gives the spirit a light amber colour and a distinctive, not so smokey flavour. Many critics have said that Glengoyne whisky, because of it’s colour and smell, is more like a lowland whisky, than a highland.

With this inspiration of visiting Glengoyne, I decided to buy myself a little sample bottle of Glengoyne 10 year old and make, what i believe is one of the most famous scotch based cocktails around, The “Rob Roy”.  This cocktail is very similar to the “Manhattan”. In was invented in 1894 by a bartender at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. The drink was named after Scottish folk hero, Robert Roy Macgregor. The drink consists of 45ml scotch whisky, 25ml sweet vermouth and a dash of Angostura bitters, stirred with ice and strain into a martini glass. You can garnish this cocktail with either a slice of lemon, lemon rind or lemon zest, or another option is a maraschino cherry.

So at the end of our day in the highlands of scotland, we were blessed with some great weather, some amazing views and we got to do as the scottish do, which is drink scotch whisky.

“The Rob Roy”
In a cocktail glass:
45ml Scotch Whisky
25ml Sweet Vermouth
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a martini glass
Garnish with Maraschino Cherry
or Lemon (slice, zest or rind)

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