Whisky Magazine Issue 96
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Our man tours Speyside out of season
On any other day I'd approach Speyside from the south, gunning the car north up the snow-flecked glacial basin of the Drumochter Pass. Today however I'm heading east following last night's mighty vertical tasting of Clynelish with the honourable members of the Loch Ness Whisky Parliament which ended with a head-to-head taste-off between the recent Manager's Choice bottling and the 17 Years Old Manager's Dram bottled in 1998. What? No, no, that would be telling.
My first stop is Leakey's Bookshop in Inverness, an antiquarian treasure-trove stocking old prints, maps and second-hand books housed in the old 18th century Gaelic church. I've always admired their nonchalant devil-may-care attitude of using a wood-burning stove in a room stuffed to the rafters with flammable paper sitting on towering tinder-dry shelves. Low down, I find my quarry of ageing whisky books to guide my trip. I pick up Scotch Whisky: Its Past and Present by David Daiches (third revised impression 1978) and add The Glenlivet - Where Romance and Business Meet (first published 1924, reprinted 1966), not the saucy tales of a Highland moll suggested by the tagline, but a slim pamphlet written to commemorate the centenary of the first licence granted to the distillery.
Squeezing back behind the wheel, I point my nose towards southern Speyside, hanging a left on to the A938 to Carrbridge where the arch of the old bridge makes for one of the most picturesque scenes in the region. This is Scotland out of season, no...