That’s Demian above running up a hill in Linlithgow, Scotland outside the burned out remains of the Royal Palace. It’s nearing dusk, which in June at this latitude means night won’t completely fall until after 10pm. The image speaks to how a camera, in this case an iPhone, is limited in how it processes light, and when so much pours down from the sky then all in front becomes a black mass–ruffled white clouds with bruises and a brilliant pool of gold around. All in all, quite dramatic and another example of how the world is created by the objects within it. Which means I’m going to write a bit about the wonderful scotch I imbibed in my homeland, on my father’s side of the family, hailing from Kirkcudbrightshire in southwestern Scotland–more about that in another post. For now, light and dark, salt water and dank earth, heather and oak, age-worn grey clouds and pearl-white swans–all sensory experiences I drink deeply down, thereby acting like the old god in Genesis separating out water from water.
We stayed at the home of Gabriela’s stepmother Elvyn, a wonderful host, and the keeper of a good cupboard of single malt scotch. She picked us up from the airport in Edinburgh and drove us to Linlithgow. When we entered her abode she asked if I wanted a wee dram, and I did, so let’s give it a go. I’m a fan of Highland Park and had never sampled Einar, so that’s where I started. A deep drink of Orkney island peat and deep tastes of stewed fruits, particularly a charred peach–imagine rum mixed with molasses and with a color of darkening roux and downed in a citrus grove. Next, I moved onto Oban which I’ve been tippling for over twenty years. I found the 14 to be quite balanced between smoke, vanilla and citrus–certainly a glass pairing well with a seared tenderloin. The surprise of the three turned out to be The Singleton Tailfire, which was new to my palette. I truly enjoyed drinking this everyday, perfect as an aperitif, a way of opening the rest of the afternoon and evening. Wonderful berry and citrus notes, a mix of bourbon and sherry oak, with a throw of pepper. Certainly one of my favorites from the trip. Then, it became time to make my own purchase. A gift for myself and my host.
I step onto Lion Well Wynd, immediately pivot onto High Street and walk through central Linlithgow passing St. Peter’s Scottish Episcopal Church, Golden Chip, Annet House Museum and Garden, Sun Ho, The Linlithgow Tap, Auld Hole in the Wall, make a quick turn left and walk into Ellies Cellar where I make a truly wonderful discovery–a sauternes cask finished Arran Malt. In a word, delicious. First a word about sauternes–a french sweet wine nestled in Sauternais nestled within Graves, nested in Bordeaux. A marvelous mix of citrus, berry and raisin notes with a liberal sprinkling of vanilla that I don’t know where to begin, except the bottles can be quite expensive and it creates a wonderful end to the day to sit outside and sip the sweet nectar as the sun finishes its daily run. Back to the scotch. From the isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde neighboring Campbeltown, an historically rich single malt region. This bottle did not disappoint– using a mix of bourbon and sauternes casks my mouth joyously tasted honey, bananas, yes bananas, lemon and the overall aroma of a perennial bed. Another candidate for my perfect aperitif contest. So one last look at a brilliant sunset over Linlithgow Loch. Sláinte!