here is a video produced by The Glenrothes featuring my winning entry.
For the past six days I was the guest of Berry Bros. and Rudd (BBR) at The Glenrothes distillery in Rothes, Scotland. Berry Bros. and Rudd are the oldest wine merchants in Britain, and they own The Glenrothes brand. I stayed at Rothes House, the guest house on the property, and while I've focused in my posts on the time spent in the distillery learning about the process of creating a vintage single malt whisky, now that I'm at home again, trying to recover from jet lag after my journey home all day yesterday, I think I should spend a few minutes describing to you some of the great extracurricular activities I enjoyed thanks to the kindness of Ronnie Cox, Brand Heritage Director for BBR.
Ronnie played tour guide to the four of us, driving us around the countryside and showing us all the local attractions. On Tuesday, for example, we went fishing for trout on a "wee loch" at Millbuies, near Elgin. This was one of the more peaceful moments of the trip. Paul Kamerbeek and I rowed out into the center of the loch in a rowboat with Mark Ash. Mark is with Frame, the agency providing publicity coverage of the event. Paul and I carried fishing rods, while Mark brought his camera and equipment to film us in action.
I'm not much for fishing -- in fact, I'm a well-known indoorsman, as opposed to an outdoorsman -- but I do enjoy being out in a rowboat on a calm lake. As we drifted, I watched the bank and the blue sky with the pole on my lap while Paul got busy chasing trout. I was enjoying that sense of inner peace that comes with such moments when it suddenly began to rain. The rain almost immediately switched to hail. Serious hail. Mark scrambled to protect his equipment as I yanked the hood of my jacket over my head. Paul, meanwhile, continued to cast his fly, farther and farther, oblivious to the weather. A true fisherman. After a few minutes it stopped and the sky was peaceful again. I was soaked and Mark was wiping off his lenses. Then Paul began to catch fish, and things got serious.
Guests at Rothes House are expected to take turns preparing breakfast for the other guests, and the following morning Paul and Ruben Luyten fixed a magnificent Dutch/Belgian breakfast featuring the two fresh trout that Paul landed, one wrapped with bacon Belgian-style which I went after pretty heavily. It made the hail a distant memory....
In fact, we dined very well throughout the trip. Caroline Hendry, Rothes House Manager, oversaw several lovely meals, one that featured an amazing salmon pot pie for lunch and another, Thursday night in the Rothes House dining room, that was a magnificent Highland Dinner featuring a piper who played outside the front door for us (in the rain, brave fellow) and a photographer to record the event.
Archiestown Hotel in Moray, where we were greeted at the door by resident owners Alan and Jane Hunter, and a dinner at the Craigellachie Hotel of Speyside, which featured the incredible whisky library I mentioned in an earlier post. On the right is a photo I promised then to share with you.
Above and beyond, though, was a special dinner we enjoyed as guests of Lady Clare Macpherson-Grant Russell and Mr. Oliver Russell at their private home, Ballindalloch Castle in Moray. Lady Clare is Lady Laird of Ballindalloch Castle and Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, which means she is the personal representative of Her Majesty the Queen and represents her at official functions in the region, arranges for all visits of the Royal Family to the region, and carries out many other responsibilities.
I Love Food.
We discussed the benefits of self-publishing and cutting out the
middlemen, and they both showed great interest in my writing and crime
fiction in general. I could not have been more warmly received.
We then enjoyed an incredible dinner in the private dining room of the castle, a privilege which I understand is not often extended to visitors. Alistair Anderson, manager of The Glenrothes, and Mr. Eric Jefferson, Visits Manager for BBR, attended as well and were resplendent in their traditional Scottish formal attire, including kilts, sporrans (the pouch worn at the front of the kilt) and sgian dubh (the small ornamental knife tucked
into a stocking). It was all extremely impressive. The meal was outstanding, featuring venison for the main course and a raspberry souffle for dessert that was like nothing I'd ever tasted before. I learned afterwards that the dining room is thought to be haunted by a ghost called The Green Lady. She didn't make an appearance, though, that I was aware of.
Without telling any further stories, I think you get the idea how wonderful a trip this was for me. It was an enormously welcome break.
Tomorrow, in one final post about my journey to The Glenrothes distillery, I'll thank the people who made it possible.