have to say at the start, Ingvar is a friend, a week on the road is not work, it’s a pleasure, we get to so many places, everyone I know is jealous and rightly so. This trip we started at Edinburgh Airport, amongst the most police I had ever seen, that Cop thingy bob in Glasgow; police fae Wales, Manchester, Brummies, a wee bit of overkill. First stop was at Bruar where a few sandwiches joined the party. We arrived into Craigellachie just on darkness, dropped the bags and headed for drinks. Good to see Tatsuya and Billy again, I was there a month back on another tour. Beddie byes. The next day saw us on the Speyside roads, aye  lucky so I am; Balmenach; Kevin loves his job, we loved the 23 year old dram. Cragganmore wi Kenny, Glenfarclas wi Callum (fab) and a 1967 dram, ending the day wi Keith at Craigellachie, a large distillery that one. Chilled oot over the road at the Highlander, met up wi Ian Logan, havnee seen him since last month, tales, stories and laughs, Mr Nice Guy of whisky. We retired back to the lodge – fab by the way, Scott is a grand host – nightcap at the bar, beddie byes.

What can I say about Tuesday? Started well, excellent tour wi Sandy at Tamdhu (thanks for the treble dram carry oot), Macallan, Ingvar did that on his own, called into the wee whisky shop in Aberlour, Ballindalloch and ended at Glenallachie – Richard was a good laugh (even though a Rangers man) and the man himself, Billy Walker, a chat upstairs and a tour, followed by dinner at the Dowans, aye dinner with Richard & Billy! That was a good day, even better night, mugged to food and drinks and transported – what can I say? Ingvar and myself had big grins back at the bar!

Our hotel also had a film crew, working at Craigellachie Distillery for  a week. These following days were just as good. Glenlivet, Glentauchers & Glen Keith with the lovely Caris, pulling into G&M Elgin at 4pm, meeting Stephen Rankin, a grand time had by us all, why am I always the d iver? Chat, stories, drams included; wait for it, starting with a 1957 Strathisla, Ingvar got through a few more, we ended with the 80 year old Glenlivet! I nibbled on the 57 and the 80yo. We left back o’7.  Headed along to Rothes meeting friends o’ mine Natalie and Lucas in the Station, food drink and chat, Natalie works at Cardhu. Nightcap again, as you do when finished driving for the day. Thursday saw an early breakfast, then a drive to Macduff Distillery, no been here before, Ingvar did the whole caboodle but hooked me up for the still room, impressive. Driving back to Speyside, Ingvar did the whole thing again at Balvenie,  I sat it out, been there done that. But whoopee, called me up to meet them at Glenfiddich, we went into the new building, what a pile of stills in there, fantastic. I thought Macallan had a few stills, but Fid have 42! Was I impressed? Is the Pope a Catholic? We dropped back to our lodge then, as usual over to Tatsuya’s place, hell the festival had started, it was rammed! We stayed to eat and a few drinks, then skadoodelled back to our wee bar as usual. Scott was giving us drams to sample, last night here, a shame. Final day with Ingvar, 9.30 appointment at Dufftown Distillery, full tour here, no been before, they are replacing a still later this month, best o luck there, taking half a wall out etc! I was told “we don’t know if it will fit yet”. From here a jaunt doon to Spey Distillery, met Paul and Findlay, nice to see ’em both again, good time here too, with drams! Take out in my case. They will be moving by 2025 to a new distillery. Watch this space. A photo stop at Dalwhinnie and away to Edinburgh, where I bid farewell to Ingvar.  As usual, a grand tour, he is my friend, a good laugh, knows twice as much as me re whisky, even better he is back in March and May next year! See you soon Ingvar, thanks again.  PAUL MCLEAN