Continuing on in Pitlochry, here is where we stayed. Castle Fonab. It is a beautiful place, with decent enough food, and proximity to the Signatory Distillery. It also is in front of a very nice Loch that is perfect for a morning walk/jog.
Here is the view from our Penthouse Suite. I always wanted to write that.
This is Castle Fonab’s private collection of whisky you can have in a side room. This Signatory in the photo here was the Balmenach 1988 25-year-old that we stupidly did not try. After a quick online review, it had a lot of vegetal and walnut notes with fruits. It is a Speyside. I just don’t gravitate to that fruit and veg profile for some reason. Not that I dislike it, but there is only so much alcohol one can drink, especially after a heavy meal, I had to focus on 3 that I cannot get anywhere else that had some funk or something interesting about them.
So here is another very good independent bottler, Gordon MacPhail, that I had mentioned in an earlier port. This was a special tasting whisky as in addition to 17 years in the cask, it was aged for an additional 40 months in Crozes-Hermitage casks, which is one of my favorite Rhone wines. It was Balblair Whiskey distilled in 1991, basically 20 years old with double fermentation. This was great, but I think this bottle has been open too long and it was kind of flat but opened up nicely with water. I read that others found this to have a nose of strawberry and banana, but I could not get this from this bottle. It is only 1 of 200 bottles. Due to the aging in wine casks, it had a nice fruity taste. Look at that ruby-red tinge to it. Coppery color almost. The most iconic wine cask that I have ever had in my life was the Chateau Yquem Bruichladdich, which is coming up in the next few posts, that is like Bourbon cask on steroids if you like sweet flavor profiles.
Here are the other two we tasted. Another wine cask Whisky, yet again, another kick-ass Rhone wine, Cote Rotie. For those that don’t know, I love Cote Rotie as they are known as the suffering vines that produce less fruit. Because they grow on a steep hillside, with soils that allow filtration, but not a lot of nutrients, the roots have to grow very deep, and since they produce little fruit, the grapes tend to be very concentrated in sugar, so you get the kind of grape that builds great character through suffering. At a subconscious level, I see my life story in this, so I have an even greater affinity with this wine due to this concept of building character through hardship. I digress, again, you can see a pattern in our drink selections on this trip. The theme of what we tasted on our trip was “things you cannot get in the US”. Linkwood, as mentioned earlier, is a closed distillery, anything from there is exceedingly rare, let alone a whisky with a funky twist to it like having been aged in a Cote Rotie cask. This is a 16-year-old Linkwood, and though it was not as rare as the Croze-Hermitage cask Gordon MacPhail, there were still only 4000 bottles produced and it is sold out in most online stores. The first thing that came to mind was chocolate covered raisins. It was very oily and very sweet, unusual combo. My favorite of the three. I usually get oily notes with the peaty whiskeys. It also had some nuttiness to it. Very pleasing after dinner. Then, then Imperial was very spicy and fruity (citrus/apricot), very light color, good but not in my pocket of favored flavor profiles.
This is the picturesque view from our morning walk around the Loch. It takes a good 45 minutes to go around the entire Loch. Stunning scenery.
Scenic Hobbit Village after walking through the town square in Pitlochry.
Stress? What stress?
Semi-power posing on the cute suspension bridge on the way back.
Ooouuuu…Look at this Scottish breakfast, best we’ve had so far. charred mushroom and tomato. Poached eggs, sausage, ham, and ‘black pudding’ which is actually blood sausage. I used to have an aversion to blood sausage as it can sometimes taste gamey and metallic like liver, but this was almost like hash browns in squid ink. Such a perfect breakfast after a brisk morning walk.
Next off to Hattie’s tearoom in Pitlochry. This is a great place for tea and scones and soaking in the local vibe.
Cute little place where you can get some amazing tea to take home as well as for gifting. We had the Lapsang Souchong tea, which is smoked over a pinewood fire. Talk about the closest thing to whisky you can get. Amazing smokey tea blew me away.
Look at that clotted cream. Just looking at it is clotting my arteries. But it is so good. Why are things that are bad for soooo good?
This ain’t no Starbucks scone. Some hardcore Scottish shit right here. Handmade.
Here is the lovely smokey tea in a beautiful cup.
Nothing like old friends. These two told us they have been friends since Kindergarten.
After re-visiting Signatory for an early afternoon tasting, we saw a traveling classic car club driving through. There was a cute little TR4 Triumph.
A classic Porsche. Don’t ask me what kind. I’m sure Jerry Seinfeld would tell you the model off the top of his head.
But here was my favorite, the classic Aston-Martin. The Sean Connery James Bond car. maybe a slightly newer model.
As we were heading back to Edinburgh before our final leg of the trip in Isaly, we passed through the town of Dunkeld. The sommelier from Fonab told us that this is where the best smoked-salmon comes from. He did say that there is one more that is better, but that It was heavenly. Lightly cured with salt and whisky.
Served to the Queen at her 60th Jubilee, as they say in the sign.
I just devoured this straight out of the wrapper.
I want some so badly right now.
Look at those paper-thin slices, sushi-grade marbling, wild Scottish salmon, the whisky it was marinated in gives it a sweet and smoky taste that is perfectly complemented by the light salt curing.
Here is the bakery down Atholl street where we went to cleanse our palates. We had a bite here. The pistachio loaf here was amazing. This was the Aran Bakery. Highly recommended, best bakery we randomly walked into in the UK. Surprisingly good. I am not sure why this place has not blown up. It’s like the UK version of Pie Hole in LA, where these young hipsters do all the baking the old fashioned way on premises and when they are out, they are out, see you tomorrow. Maybe because it has only been open a year they have not gotten the buzz they deserve? I think they are a harbinger of more good things to come in this area with an agricultural awakening of artisan food with locally sourced produce.
The traveling car club was on our tail.
Wow, look at that classic e-type Jag.
On our way back to Edinburgh before heading to Islay.
View from our room at The Principal hotel on George Street.
Massive stairs we climbed to get to dinner at the unimpressive Angels with Bagpipes.
Beautiful gothic spire in the center of Edinburgh. It was never bombed in WW2, so a lot of the structures from the old days are still standing.
The Ardbeg Embassy. Not as impressive as the one in Stockholm Sweden for some reason, according to Jerry who went there before Erika and I got to the UK. I guess they are all independently owned, and the one in Stockholm is the only Ardbeg Embassy that gets casks to age in their store.
I wanted to have one of their crazy expensive bottles that you can’t get in the US at all. So, I had the Alligator.
The reason it is called Alligator is that they do an extra charring of the wood in the cask so that it looks like alligator skin. This is supposed to give it an even smokier flavor. You definitely get that sitting by the campfire or smoking a cigar flavor. This bottle easily goes for $500.
Here we are having langoustines for lunch.
Scottish oysters and Orkney scallops.
Innis and Gun is an ale that similar to the preparation of whisky is aged in bourbon barrels. I believe it is also discarded barrels of bourbon that was first used to age scotch. When it’s lifespan is reached, they add the ale to soak in what’s left. It was quite good.
Here is Erika with some kilted Scottish boys. What are the odds, across from the only Mexican restaurant in town?
This was the center of town where they have an amazing ice cream parlor called Mary’s Milk Bar. Pictures did not do it justice, so I would just plug its namesake. If this is the view you have, then you are standing right in front of it. Line out the door. We were lucky to have ice cream on the hottest day in Scotland on record. Heatwave had everyone out sunbathing on the grass.
Now on to more important things, Whisky. Here we were at Cadenhead’s. Another great Independent Bottler.
They also have rum they age in small batches to speed up the fermentation.
Here is the headmaster.
Here is their menu. They list all the distilleries in Scotland and what they have at what age in their own cask that they bottle. I got a bottle of the Mortlach 29 year. I am now a bigtime Mortlach fan. I already got their 25 year from Signatory as well.
I believe these quarter casks are for the rum and other whiskey regions that they also serve straight from the cask.
Here is a bottle that they probably won’t be selling anytime soon.
I should put this sign in my Child Psychiatry office.