A Dram To Feel At Home Anywhere

Courtesy Jens' Scotland Traveling Party
Courtesy Jens' Scotland Traveling Party

Oh please, not another review of a dram we’ve all tasted many times before! Good point. I’m going to go about this topic with a whole different approach, so bear with me.

A couple of years back, my family, friends of my family and my (back then) girlfriend and me visited the Great Country of Scotland to hike the West Highland Way. And being in Scotland we had a fair share of The Famous Grouse,The Macallan and quite a bit of some Teacher’s as well.  But this is about none of those. This s about a rather unexpected situation, about an open mind and an open heart, and about feeling right at home wherever you might be.

We were four couples and in order to make things easy, all hotels, pensions and shelters had been booked -- and confirmed -- in advance. Or so we thought.

Upon our arrival in Glasgow we hit the airport information and called our first hotel to find out how to best get there. We were greeted by the rather disconcerting question of what we might want there. I explained everything and was asked to wait for a call back. In this very moment I wished I’d had a camera as seven blank faces were looking at me in bewilderment. Five minutes later, the lady at the airport information took a call, which was -- as you might guess -- for me. Turns out they’d made a mistake and overbooked, just the other guys had already shown up. We were just asked for a cell phone number, told to find the next pub at the airport and get a beer. Someone was on their way.

Doing as we’d been told we got a round of Guinness and tried to relax. Skip forward 30 minutes and we got a phone call telling us to come out to the parking lot. The head of the house had shown up with a van, packed in all of our luggage and the first four of us. The girls went first, while the rest of us had another Guinness -- or two. After all the back and forth it took him close to an hour to be at the airport again.

Scottish Highlands 2
Scottish Highlands 2

We arrived at the place of the family who run the hotel and were made to feel at home instantly. Stepping through the door, we stared into a man-high cupboard filled with whisky from top to bottom. We were all led into the living room and asked for our drinking preferences, after that things got really relaxed. We all sat through the night enjoying a couple of drams and some wine and shared our stories. And leaving the next morning my dad -- who’d shown to be the greatest whisky connoisseur of our bunch -- was presented with a bottle from the cupboard alongside the words: “You’re gonna need this.”

I’ve traveled quite a bit, but up till then this was the greatest token of hospitality I’ve ever witnessed anywhere -- considering that we were eight total strangers. After that we didn’t run into any other unexpected situations, yet no Scotsman lacked the passion for hostmanship.

Back home and a couple of years later my tastebuds have evolved and I couldn’t ever decide on my most favorite whisky. There are really just too many, especially when adding an ‘E.’ However, whenever I find myself in a situation of uncertainty, in a spot of blindness or when I simply cannot decide, there’s only one. My go-to, when I’m at home and need memories revived, when I’ve just been bitten by the travel bug and want to revisit a place and/or time, or when I’m far far away and want to feel right at home. The Glenlivet 15 Year French Oak Reserve.

Scottish sunset
Scottish sunset

Tasting notes can be found anywhere, so let’s not even bother. What I like so much about this spirit is its subtlety. While it is quite rich and creamy, most flavors don’t go as deep as in other whiskies. The French oak lends this whisky a very fruity aspect full of cherries and plums while it’s finish is rather soft with a fine array of spices. When you want to sip a fine dram, but have your mind wander away, this is just what you want. Straight and honest flavors, not overly complex, but fine enough to have another sip. A rare gem in a big industry.

First released in 2004, this Whisky is aged almost entirely in ex-Bourbon casks for 13 straight years. It is then divided up to spend the remaining two years apart. One part stays in bourbon, while the other part gets to feel the strong influences of European Oak. After that the two are brought back together for vatting and that’s pretty much the end of the story. You might have heard or thought that it gets to linger in ex-Sherry casks for a finish -- that is completely wrong. The fine taste and flavors are achieved by carefully selecting the right casks and the selective maturation. After all, “The idea is not to create something brand new but to add a further layer of complexity to what we have in the 12-year old.” - Ian Logan, The Glenlivet Brand Ambassador


To The Glenlivet 15:

Here’s to finding oneself in unexpected situations,

for those will make the greatest of memories.

Here’s to always having an open mind and an open heart,

for without those one cannot make new friends.

And here’s to sharing a fine dram wherever you are,

for then you’ll know you’re right at home.

All Photos Courtesy Jens' Scotland Traveling Party.