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A legendary taste of Scotland

You won’t grow Cuban seed there, and you certainly won’t get a sun tan, but if you like history and castles, stunning panoramic views, some of the best salmon fishing in the British Isles, and, -- oh yes -- that wee amber liquid they call the “craitur” or Scotch, then this wee part of God’s Country is for you. The Speyside region of Scotland lies partly in Moray and partly in the highlands. It is set around the River Spey, which originates high in the Monadhliath Mountains near Aviemore. It runs for more than a hundred miles to the more fertile and gentle plains of the Moray Firth, where it spills into Spey Bay. One of the finest salmon rivers in the UK, legendary malt whisky distilleries are found all along its length.

Downstream the landscape becomes

gentler, and the slopes of the Cairngorms segue into rolling heather hills. As the river winds, it reveals a succession of panoramic views, all along the road to Balindalloch Castle. From here, north takes you to Knockando, where a number of well known malt whiskies are produced. Or you can head south to the home of Glenlivet Crown Estate, and one of the best known Speyside malt whisky distilleries.

Pretty villages and friendly hostelries dot the area around towns of Dufftown, Aberlour, and Craigellachie. Here you will find the greatest concentration of distilleries on Speyside. Speyside, with more than 50 per cent of

Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries, has its own Whisky Trail. It takes in eight distilleries as well as Speyside Cooperage, where the fine oak barrels are made to mature the Scotch.


Once you have finished the trail, if you head about 25 miles west (don’t drive), you will hit the shores of Loch Ness, and if you have had adequate measures of the “craitur”, there’s every chance you will see the large creature that inhabits the Loch. (At least, that’s what your brain will be telling you.)

Some of Speyide’s many famous whiskies have exotic names: Cragganmore, Cardhu, Tomintoul, Knockando, and The Macallan.

The famous Macallan, like all other whiskies, goes through the same complex process of Barley, Water, Malting, Milling, Mashing, Fermentation, Distillation, and Bottling.

It all starts with the Barley. Barley is the only cereal used in distilling the Macallan. It’s the ideal crop, Its tough outer shell protects the critical barley grain from the wet and cool climate of Scotland. Barley grown for The Macallan is low in nitrogen, and high in starch. It’s the starch that is converted into soluble sugars, fermented into alcohol and subsequently distilled into The Macallan Single Malt. It’s a special barley grown on local estates to ensure the rich, oily character of the new spirit.

So, now the juices are flowing, how about really tasting some of those Speysides? The Glen Bar and Restaurant, having just moved to Stittsville, is having its inaugural Whisky Tasting evening on Thursday, Oct. 28.

What’s more appropriate than tasting Scotch in a Scottish bar run by Scots?

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