Whisky Magazine Issue 77
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It was one of those clear winter days which only the north manages to deliver. At this time of year the sun, seemingly exhausted after its 12 months of effort, can barely pull itself above the hills and instead skims in a low curve across the rim of the horizon, only just spitting out sufficient light to illuminate the land in what seems a permanent dawn. It's as if it has struck a bargain with we of the north: I can give you heat or I can give you light and we have chosen the latter. It's the right choice. Today the low sun has burnished and bronzed hillside, wood and heather. The ground, hardened by days of heavy frost, seems to ring underfoot, our breath steams into the bluest of skies. The dogs, skittering along the track, remain confused as to why the puddles are frozen. It's a fine time to be walking on Scotland's whisky mountain.
Ben Rinnes changes your perspective. A pink granite outcrop, it's the highest mountain in the immediate landscape, one which lifts you clear of the local and replaces the parochial with a country. To the south, the Cairngorms are ruffed with a breaker of white cloud, to the north across the greyblue sea is the Caithness coast. At first sight it's the classic personification of the wild, a place where man is a stranger, where ‘nature' has the upper hand. It's a seductive reading of the landscape which appeals to our ego: fooling us into thinking that we who have kicked steps through the snow to the wind-blasted peak have somehow become absor...