You know the roaring lion of the MGM, the gun barrel sequence and maybe the thrilling “tata TAtaa tataataa” tune by Monty Norman too. Which man hasn’t dreamt of incarnating the world’s most famous spy, which girl hasn’t dreamt to have their own James Bond…? Just as the super-hero, Scotland holds a special place in the heart of people who have been there. Reputed for the famous Loch Ness and sometimes infamous Haggis (actually very tasty if you get over your fear and try), the Land of the Gaels withholds another treasure, in its 125 Whisky distilleries.
Arriving by private jet (with our own Pussy Galore attendant), we were greeted by our host right on the tarmac, just as in the movies. A short briefing ensued, we did priority check-in at the private Whisky maker residence, and were on our way to a particular stage: one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries. The 1786-born Strathisla distillery is highly representative of the ancient architecture and facilities where Whisky started to be elaborated. Entering the place was like going backstage.
There a man wearing a skirt (yes, tartan kilt) with a funny accent guided our little private party through the the maze of the distillery. We felt like a precious grain of barley going through all the steps of making in order to become a desired drop of gold. From yeast to malt, fermenting in wash backs, distilling in pot stills to ageing in old oak barrels, we truly got the insider perspective. And there, behind the locked gates, was a Royal Salute barrel to Her Majesty’s Secret Service, yes, the one of HRM Queen Elizabeth.
The feeling echoed the experience which I got at the Glenfiddich distillery where I granted the double act of a spy and a king. The heavy locks keeping the wooden solera closed were unchained in front of my eyes. In silence and ensuring no one was around, we discreetly aimed for the largest vat, climbed the ladder and dipped a little instrument to take this well-kept 30 year-old Single Malt. No photo indeed. Truthful to the nation’s principles, we could only “smell” the nectar – only the law doesn’t say you can’t smell with your mouth…
Leaving the cellars, a country-style melody got to our ears, played from traditional bagpipe. The square-shouldered, big beard musician was inviting us to the private cocktail reception at a hidden corner of the distillery. We learnt the ritual of Scotch pouring over the haggis, accompanied by a mysterious song, delightful Whisky cocktails, story telling by the fireplace and our personalized bottle. No blasphemy for Skyfall lovers, the spy’s Macallan drink will be covered in a next sequel.
The name is Whisky, Scotch Whisky. We will return.