All things being equal, I'd rather be in Drumnadrochit. So we're going. Today.
I had planned two other trips to Scotland over the past decade but they never came to be. Those were different times for the Scotch whisky industry and my opinion of it. But I go now during a time of stagnation (or worse) in volume sales, all the while the high-end of the market is flooded with decadence. I've come to the realization of what a terrible value Scotch has become compared to the rest of the world's whisky markets (save for Taiwan). I'm enjoying $10-$25 bourbons much more than $50+ scotches.
Though I still have a great love -- or maybe "an unending deep interest" is a better phase because it's a commodity not a person -- for Scotch whisky and many of its distilleries, it is a feeling that's no longer innocent and pure, having been corrupted by the actions of the industry itself. Watching the output from my old favorite distilleries, like Talisker and Laphroaig, getting thoroughly abused in the name of, what, product line expansion or veiling problematic spirit has inspired me to buy less or none of their products. Experiencing the industry at large pushing more active American oak into their whiskies in failed attempts to either mimic bourbon or artificially speed up aging, I've found that they're transforming scotch into a new product as a whole, and I don't like the way it tastes. Tasting whisky is sort of the point, right?
As I mentioned in posts from years ago, I took an interest in Scotland itself, its land, its history, its people, at least a decade before I started regularly drinking scotch whisky. The month I spent in Scotland and Ireland in 2002 was one of the most uplifting and cleansing experiences in my life. But I drank no Scotch that month, aside from a glass or two of Black & White on the rocks. Yes, I probably missed out on some of the greatest whisky in history, but if I were to do it again I wouldn't change a thing (except maybe magically having more money).
So now, in 2016, I travel back there with my wife (Clan MacMillan in my house!), a woman whom I may not have met or wooed successfully if not for my original Scotland experience. (It's a long, boring, personal story. Just trust me, it's true.) No, I am not going to 75 distilleries and 300 pubs in 9 days. We just moved across the United States and we're tired. Rain or shine or rain, we're going to do some historical stuff, lots of walking, eating, and resting.
I realize this post strikes of being short on enthusiasm. Sorry, I'm worn out from a difficult three months (or five years?). Inside I'm f***ing stoked! We're going to Scotland and doing some really sweet s**t! We will be going to distilleries. We will be going bars and restaurants and touristy things. I'll have