Monday, 2 May 2011

Glorious Gairloch.

One of my current aims in exploring around Scotland is to sample the local whisky from each major climbing area I visit. I like climbing and I like whisky and I like supping on a wee dram of the latter with a campsite dinner after doing plenty of the former. The harmony of climbing on the bones of the land during the day, and feasting on the fruits of it's flesh in the evening. So far I've had good, great, or sometimes just adequate combinations of: Caithness climbing + Old Pultney, Inverness/Moray/Aberdeen climbing + Singleton, and Skye climbing + Talisker.

One place where this combination has always eluded me is the Ullapool-Gairloch area, rich in excellent cragging but barren in comparable whiskies, Inverness and Wick distilleries not quite having the local feel....until now that is!

A tip off from a local shop led me to this secret micro-distillery at Aultbea, and a small but expensive purchase of their cask strength spiced rum cask (to go with the summery weather) single malt. So far, so promising. After a fresh breezy day at Tollie Crag, there was something warming to look forward to. But what about the taste?? I am pleased to report it is a tipple that worthily matches the quality of Gairloch cragging. Brought down to bottle strength with a drop of water, it blends a good sharp spice with tropical fruit tones and a woody casky finish that was most pleasing. A rousing success.

Oh yeah and we climbed at Tollie Crag and Loch Maree Crag with not a midge in sight, and Loch Tollaidh (above) in fierce evening sun, then wombled past Whale Rock in Glen Nevis on the way back. Mostly fairly punterly but the weather was awesome and it was great to explore the elusive Tollie midge-havens in fresh conditions, and Arial at Loch Maree was the most outrageously big pitch I can recall climbing. Time for a wee break, some training, and hopefully some progression.

P.S. and someone set fire to Liathach DOH.

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