For some, delighting in a dram of whisky after a day on the hills is simply a well-deserved treat, but for many, including our editor-at-large, Cameron McNeish, it’s a ceremony which unites us with the great outdoors, whatever season we are in.
“Moderation is the key, and the aim,” Cameron explains. “A measure of whisky, or maybe a couple just to be sociable, can create a very satisfying ritual at the end of a wild camp meal, when the bones are weary and sleep is calling. It’s then that whisky helps the ‘connection with nature’ process that I, and many other backpackers, seek. Unlike tea or coffee, whisky is a product of the land that I love, the land I’ve hiked over and camped upon for years; for me drinking whisky in the wilds is as integral to the outdoor experience as washing your face in the dew.
“You see, whisky is a genuine tour de force of nature; of the water that percolates up through layers of peat, peat that has been formed over centuries in wet and damp conditions, where flooding obstructs flows of oxygen from the atmosphere, slowing the rate of decomposition of the vegetation it’s created from. That water is then mixed with barley, one of the world’s healthiest foods, and one that is particularly suited to the Scottish climate. What happens then is a source of considerable mystique, almost magic.”
Indeed, whisky is as much a part of the Scottish wilderness as the forests, lochs and mountains, and it should be enjoyed and savoured as such.
This 10-year-old bottle is distilled in Lochranza, Arran, and the waters used flow through granite and peat before they reach Loch na Davie. The cinnamon hint makes for a very interesting palate.
This beautifully-coloured whisky is distilled on the Isle of Jura for 14 years in American white oak followed by two years in ex-Amoroso Oloroso sherry casks. Diurach is Old Norse for ‘Deer Island’.
ISLE OF SKYE
Woody tones are present throughout this blend, which is matured in oak casks for eight years. Additionally, 15p of each bottle is donated to Scottish Mountain Rescue!
Distilled on the banks of the River Dee in the Cairngorms, this 12-year-old bottle is named after the Munro found in the Grampians. Expect sweetness followed by acidity and woody notes.