Dateline: 2011 Scottish Games and Festival
The program clearly labeled a scheduled event as Whisky Tasting.
The room setup looked promising with six small cups of amber liquid neatly arranged on each place setting, plus a few dozen bottles of single malt lined up on the tables.
But, once the “seminar” began, I noticed a couple of professorial-looking older gentlemen standing in front of us, one with a wooden pointer facing a large wall map.
Oh, oh…it was about then that I realized I was about to be schooled.
This was quickly confirmed when one of our “instructors” curtly proclaimed,
“This isn’t just a drinking class.”
Truth be told, I did not realize this was a class of any type, drinking or otherwise.
Besides, I didn’t think I needed anybody teaching me how to drink. But I quickly learned that there is more to the distilling and tasting of Scotch whisky than I had thought.
(By the way, before being accused of spelling improprieties—which would normally not be a misplaced accusation—I am not leaving out an “e” when I write out the word whisky; when it comes to discussing the Scotch variety, it’s how the Scotch chose to spell it.
Since I cannot conclude any enlightenment on the intricacies of Scotch whisky by plying you with a taste of multiple varieties, I will just say, a good time was had by all.
This gathering of the clans for the Scottish games and festival events included much more than just whisky drinking.
There was also beer drinking.
(What, you never heard of Scotch ale?)
In addition to alcoholic offerings, there were other distractions with many choices of music and dancing entertainment venues.
My favorite band was a local group called the Stout Rebellion, whose genre seemed centered largely around, well… drinking; specifically “high-energy traditional drinking songs” that you might hear in Scottish pubs.
If you think there is an inordinate amount of attention to numbing one’s brain, it might be directly related to the so-called athletic competitions that seem better done with some level of pain mitigation.
For example, forgetting for a moment why anyone in their right mind would even wish to pick up and carry a telephone pole, and then flick it end-over-end, not feeling that your lower spine has just popped out of your back would be a good thing from a competitive standpoint.
This is the big boy sport of caber tossing.
Other things to watch included dogs chasing sheep, giant hairy cows, Ladies From Hell that were really men, and a gazillion vendors selling stuff.
In addition to the typical musical instruments being played, there was an impressive display of lung power in a mass band of bagpipes.
Never wishing to be too far from their next ale, one common trait of the hardcore festival-goers was the ubiquitous tankard, or large metal mug, clipped onto their kilt.
For some, it seemed to affect their choice of wardrobe, or lack thereof.
I guess I should have told him that Bay to Breakers was the following Sunday.