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99 Drams of Whiskey by Kate Hopkins

99 Drams of Whiskey by Kate Hopkins

Author:Kate Hopkins
Language: eng
Format: azw3, epub
ISBN: 9780312381080
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00


13

Rain and Peat

As we headed toward Inverness and eventually the A82, which would take Krysta and me to the west coast of Scotland, a sense of foreboding washed over me. Coming up was the one area of Scotch whiskey where my knowledge was weakest, the islands. Island whiskey is Scotch whiskey made on any of the outer isles, from Orkney in to the north to the southernmost of the Inner Hebridean Islands, located off the west coast. It’s also the type of whiskey that most enthusiasts equate with smoke . . . peat smoke, more specifically.

While planning my trip to Scotland, it quickly became apparent that my time was limited, and I could either go to Speyside, the region with the greatest number of distilleries in Scotland, or to Islay, the island with the greatest number of distilleries. I could not do both. I chose to do Speyside. When I announced this on my Web site, I was immediately told that I had made the wrong decision. One island blog wrote that “the Accidental Hedonist . . . will unfortunately/stupidly miss out on Islay during their current Ireland and Scotland trip.” It was clear that many people believed that Scotch whiskey . . . true Scotch whiskey . . . is the deep, smoky, peaty whiskey, and that the rest of the bottles that Scotland provides are merely some form of corporate propaganda.

So instead of heading to the islands, I had settled upon the city of Oban, and their one distillery. Additionally, I had purchased an “Islay Gift Pack” at the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre back in Edinburgh, and made Krysta promise to drink each bottle with me. As a fallback position, it was a rather weak one. Perhaps we could sneak out for a quick, unplanned day trip.

As we passed through the town of Fort William on our way to Oban, a distinct aroma filled the car.

“What’s that smell?” I asked.

“I’m not sure, but I think it’s peat,” Krysta said.

Sure enough, as we looked at the various houses we were driving by, an excessive amount of smoke was rising from several chimneys.

“Great,” I thought to myself. “Even Scotland is mocking my choice.”

We made it into Oban and checked into our hotel, a popular seaside resort that was surprisingly chock-full of people in what I thought was the off-season. After dinner I headed to the front desk.

“Pardon me,” I said to the young woman behind the counter. “If I wanted to take a day trip to Islay tomorrow, what would that entail?”

She looked at me as if I had asked her what flavor of dog she would like to have for dinner.

“You want to go to Islay?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Tomorrow?”

“Yes.”

“Stay the night there?” she continued to ask with an air of incredulity.

“No. I would want to make a day trip of it. I’d like to see a distillery if possible.”

“Can’t be done.”

Somehow, I had known that this was going to be the answer.

“What if we stayed the night?” I responded.

She looked down and rummaged through some folders on her desk, looking for something.



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