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Issue 122 - Driving through the Glens

Whisky Magazine Issue 122
September 2014

 

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Driving through the Glens

A ubiquitous term when used in combination with single malt, especially the ones that started it all

For alphabetical malt whisky drinkers, their quest gets serious upon arrival at the letter G. The aperitif will be Glen Albyn and one can rest with Glen Turret as digestif. In between you will encounter famous valleys the likes of Fiddich, Farclas and Morangie. These are not the ones I will focus on this time; they usually draw enough attention. No, we will wander the lesser glens of whisky country that gave their names to malts as well as blends.

Let's start with the most famous, or notorious if you prefer, valley in Scotland – Glen Coe. Whoever has been there will immediately acknowledge that. Come rain or shine, hail or storm, snow or ice, that place will leave a special mark in your brain forever. Whenever I cross this valley, and I was fortunate to have been able to do this under practically every thinkable weather circumstance, I see fighting Highlanders in my mind's eye. This works best when the weather is really bad. Here, in 1692, the Campbells slaughtered the MacDonalds, after having partied with them for a fortnight. It turned out to be a political assassination, but would give the Campbells a bad name that echoes today. The valley itself is named after the eponymous river that runs through it, but was nicknamed ‘Glen of Weeping' after the 17th century clanocide. As can be read on the label, this malt was made at Ben Nevis Distillery, further north.

Glen Urquhart is a name that will ring a bell with many. Halfway down Loch Ness on the western shore, just s...

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