It has been a good while (16 months or more) since I accompanied myself driving fae Perth to Speyside. Did I say I was looking forward to it? Maybe aye, well, aye, x it by a thousand. It has been too long a time, missing the craic, the visits, friends and places. Even without a mention of whisky! Hired the car, set oot and enjoyed myself, window doon radio (2) on for as long as the signal lasts. My destination couldnee arrive fast enough, I was looking forward to this, even on my lonesome. I did ask a nice young lady to come along but she was engaged elsewhere with wee ones. Nae matter, I have been well known for having a party on my own.
Arrived at ROTHES GLEN, designed in 1893 by Alexander Ross”. Rothes Glen House, which was formerly known as Birchfield House, was built in 1893 as a summer residence for the Dunbar family. It later passed to a relative, Mrs Dunbar-Naismith who lived at the house until 1921. Thereafter it was let as a shooting lodge until the second world war, when it was used by Gordonstoun School and its’ junior school which later moved to Aberlour House. In 1946 the house was sold and it was run as a country house hotel until 1998. Since 2004 it has been fully refurbished and is now an exceptional private house. And what a place! Back to whisky, Charles Doig built the house! As soon as I arrived and parked up, met Damian in the garden, “you must be Paul”, as we went in the door I knew I would like this hoose. The house, furniture & furnishings all to my taste. As we went on a house tour, each room just got better, I thought “I could easily be a guest here for life!” I had the perfect host, matched by a perfect dram in the library before dinner. Myself Damian & his wife and son munched away and drank a nice red. Retired later to the (full sized) snooker room, with yet more excellent whisky, it rounded off a grand day, good company, good food, wine and whisky. We did much story swapping, I was billeted on the ground floor in a nice suite, grand stuff for this old codger. Breakfast, like a bairn in a sweetie shop, jumped out of bed (well, crawled and sloped) for breakfast, could murder a few sausages and eggs and two nice local ladies did the honours, I knew both their faces, and they knew mine. That police programme sure put my face about. Any group we place there will love it. Signing the visitors book, my name appeared under Charlie Maclean, he stayed last week, am in good company.
Day two Headed out; Cardhu, a real nice job they have made for the new visitor centre, cannee wait to take guests there, very impressed. Glenlivet, much of the same, new furnishings, new layout and new bar. Glen Moray, had a long chat with Iain, they were booked solid for days with tours. I was confused, something was different? Aye that’s it, all the history pictures and tins etc were gone. I quizzed Iain, there will be a new glass cabinet sometime soon with it all in. Nudge nudge, there may be a new dram soon and, sadly one will disappear. I have known Iain and Glen Moray for years, we will continue taking our tours there. Glenallachie, only the tasting room and shop were open, but some nice drams here too. Glenfiddich, another nice surprise, the new café is now behind the gift shop, with a superb whisky lounge upstairs, impressed? To be sure. My server with a pot of tea was a nice wee lass, been there 7 years or so, again, we knew each other by sight. And so to the Highlander Inn for the night. I know them well, had a good chat with Tatsuya, and another with Billy. It’s been a while since I stayed, felt like it had never been more than a week! I do like that place, my fish supper was huge, think they battered Jaws! I drifted along to the Fiddichside Inn, an hour or so there with the locals, great craic. Back to the Highlander, a few drinks and hit bed.
Day three, good breakfast and good chat with fellow whiskyite Derek. Had the craic with Cathy, she is like a sister who tells me off, but also has fun. Many a time jokes at my expense, och well. Left and called in to say hello at Glenfarclas. A two hour drive home.
Overall. My first Speyside visit in over a year, I was impressed with the new things I saw, to my reader – and I know there is one – sorry this is goin on a bit, but there you go I like writing this nonsense, like visiting friends, I love what I do. I would fly back at a moment’s notice to Rothes Glen. END. PAUL MCLEAN