Leaving the South West of France in the middle of summer to head north to Scotland – I must be mad. Not this summer the weather was almost better up North than in Bordeaux. But of course the weather is not the prime motivator for visiting Scotland – amongst many other attractions was the whisky of course !
Malt whisky is very popular in France being the second largest export market worth £500 million. The links with Bordeaux are not so tenuous echoes of the ‘Auld Alliance’ and the wine export links to Leith, near Edinburgh spring to mind. Groups such as LVMH are present in both regions, with Chateau d’Yquem and Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux and Glemorangie and Ardbeg in Scotland. If you get the chance to taste the Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or it will show you just how fabulous the ‘bland’ mix of these 2 worlds can be – but I digress
One of the reasons I was in Scotland was to learn more about enjoying a wee dram but also to find resources for some clients who want to accompany me on my quest to learn more about whisky.
I was lucky enough to stay at the private members golf club Loch Lomond, a wonderful base.
The view across Loch Lomond
My first introduction was a tasting on the first evening with the French sommelier from the club Stephane Damezin – I know a French sommelier teaching a Bordeaux wine educator about Scotch whisky is an interesting combination but I learnt a lot – and there is a lot to learn.
Part of the whisky tasting
There is more to Scotland than Whisky, the golf (of course) the spectacular countryside, the wonderful hospitality and the food. Those of you that know a little of my history will know that I have a particular soft spot for Scottish Beef having helped to created the ‘Scotch Beef club’ in here France many years ago. I was not disappointed to go back and taste wonderful beef and lamb on this trip, and of course the salmon and seafood. For many years it seemed as if the best of Scottish food left the country and headed south to France and Spain, no longer it would seem. There is a big movement buy local chefs to take the best of Scottish produce and interpret it for a local and visiting international clientele. to an international clientele and also offering visitors the possibility to learn how to prepare local specialities at their cooking schools such as Michael Muir and Rachel McQuaid’s Cook or Martin Wishart, Michelin starred chef from Edinburgh and Loch Lomand.
Loch Lomond is an easy run from Glasgow, not just the international airport but the city, which is, I discovered not just a great shopping centre but a very vibrant food scene, so a great place to start off an adventure.
I’m planning such an adventure next year with Caroline Dewar an internationally known whisky expert, writer and teacher who has worked with many of the leading Scottish distillers. Caroline organises private distillery tours throughout Scotland to allow enthusiastic amateurs like myself to discover the wonderfully complex world of whisky.
I’m thinking a week or so of touring Scotland to taste the whisky, a cooking class, a little shopping, a few historic castles (to visit and stay in) and brisk walks or rounds of golf to blow away the morning after cobwebs. Stay tuned for more details and let me know if you want to join in.