Just a brief piece to recognise Fathers Day.
Today I am feeling fairly virtuous – a good son. I am travelling to Aberdeen to visit my old Dad.
I have assembled a sample pack of whisky with some relevance to him. I will take 5 samples with some tasting notes I drew up along with a GlenCairn glass. I do intend taking up an empty sample bottle to retrieve a dram of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, I bought him it in Dubai but which he did not like and I have not tasted for a while. He is a Red or Black Label man.
My dad has drunk Scotch for many years, because of his connection with the Northern Isles he has mainly drunk Highland Park 12 year old and Scapa.
My first sample is a Highland Park Dark Origins a Non Age Statement expression I particularly enjoy. I must confess, I actually bought this bottle for him for Christmas but realising he generally puts American Dry Ginger in his whisky ( a practice he tells me he does not always follow) I replaced it with Naked Grouse a Macallan Highland Park blend I recall, his two favourite drams – So not so virtuous on my part. He used to visit the islands for a fortnight 4 times a year. I remember as a child really missing him but of course eagerly anticipating a gift on his return. He loved the Islands and the islanders , when he was ill in Aberdeen I remember an Orkadian friend coming down specially to visit him in hospital, they are wonderful people quite unique and the history and quality of the Orkney Distilleries reflect their humanity.
My second sample is an 18 year Old Dalmore. My Dad’s working life consisted of getting up at 5am and driving to all parts of the far north to visit his customers only to return at lunch time to mange his business. He frequently visited Alness and would have been well aware of the Distillery as well as my next sample Old Poultney 12 from Wick amongst the furthest of his daily drives which he completed rain, hail, snow or shine on much worse roads than we have today. I think he will enjoy these two drams he certainly deserves them.
His business was a paint and glass wholesaler and contractor. His business covered all of Speyside snd the Northern and Eastern Highlands as well as the Northern Isles. The majority of Scottish Distilleries were customers or customers of customers. As a child I saw the odd unlabelled bottle of new spirit arrive. Of course it could have been Turpentine.
When I recently arranged a Glenfarclas tasting my dad told me that he was at school with John and George Grant. He called John, ‘Peter’, I think because at the Grammar School in Aberdeen there were probably several Grants so John used Peter, his middle name, I believe, to distinguish himself from the others. Like the Grant brothers my father fought in the war. He was a Bomber pilot – and afterwards a Squadron Leader in the Iraqi desert – an interesting time for young lads.
He is very familiar with Glenfarclas spending many business trips in Speyside. I know he spent many happy hours in Mrs. Baxter’s kitchen in Fochabers enjoying their world famous products. The North of Scotland was a much simpler hospitable more personal place in these days, but the themes of the current marketing did have real origins in this close knit hospitable society I grew up in. Having just completed my bottles of 12 and 18 year old, I have picked a Glenfarclas 105 for this sample pack. These high ABV NAS expressions are truly great tasting drams. As an Aberdonian I know value when I taste it.
On this theme my 5th and final dram is an Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 57. My family’s roots were in the Fochabers and Cabrach area, My family would originally have been farmers and hence most probably descended from illicit distillers.
On that note I will report back in this blog on his reaction, which is usually “Is that all” or “its too weak.” So too all fathers I say Slainte! We owe a lot to your patronage of the Scottish Distilleries through good times and bad.
To my kids ….. a bottle of Laphroig Quarter Cask would be most acceptable.