Monday, September 29, 2008

"In every dram, there's a different story." - Tom Morton

I've been looking forward to the Inverness Book Festival for ages now, and tonight's kickoff did not disappoint. Tom Morton is a Radio Scotland dj who I've been listening to for awhile now. (Check out his radio program on the link - eclectic taste, like on an old mix tape) He wrote a book called Spirit of Adventure about spending six weeks motorcycling around Scotland to various distilleries - I look forward to reading it. The small crowd was lively, and I was thankfully not the only person flying solo - I'll go to anything solo, but this felt odd as three wee drams were included in the £5 price - felt a bit like a boozer, but nevermind.
Editor's Note: If you're not a whisky person, skip this posting. It will bore you.

Morton played songs, told stories and read poems - my favorite kind of book festival event. We began with a dram of Glenmorangie, which I now know how to properly pronounce. Apparently, the word means 'great big field'. I like this whisky, it's got a sweet, light finish. While enjoying our first dram, Morton played a song called "Three Whites and a Goldie", based on the story of how distilleries used to have a difficult time keeping staff, so they added some perks to the job: three 'whites', or whisky at about 60% alcohol, and a 'goldie', a dram - free during and after the job. Best line from the song: "It's the story of a tiny country with a great big thirst." This led us to a poem taking us through the alphabet with words synonymous with 'inebriated'. Brilliant. He did the same later, with a song including the A-Z of distilleries.

Next was a dram of Laphroaig, one of my old faves, a peaty, zingy glass of love. Morton said (joked?) that this was the only spirit allowed into America during Prohibition, as no one believed it was drinkable. And we ended with Ardbeg, which I'd never had before and I enjoyed. It's got a peaty kick, but the finish - my mouth was buzzing. Fabulous.

You can't live in the Highlands and ignore whisky. It's everywhere - in the sauces at restaurants, on special at the supermarket, in the hand of half the people in any given bar. Morton, and any whisky connoisseur, speaks of the sense of place in each dram. It's a nice thought, especially coupled with the cozy surroundings of a country pub or the exhilaration from the top of a Munro - wonderful times to have a dram. Slainte.


Erik R. said...

I've never been very fond of whiskeys that merit the word "peaty". The word is kind of funny, but the taste and general connotation of "mud" don't agree with me. And "dram" is word that sounds so negative. How are you feeling? Dram... :-(

My Highlands adventure included touring the The Glenlivet distillery, where my future wife fell in love with "whiskey-flavo(u)red honey". Just when you thought the bees work couldn't be improved, along came the Scots. Toast + light butter + whiskey honey = pure delight.

Tom Morton said...

Hey K
Thanks for the kind comments - nice to meet you at Eden Court - enjoy the rest of the fest.

sgazzetti said...

Sounds like a fantastic evening. I love whisky erudition and would love to have heard it. Also, two of those malts you name are serious favorites of mine -- when I'm in whisky mode I tend to keep both Glenmorangie and Laphroaig in the house -- though the latter sometimes must cede to Lagavulin. My other favorite, a sort of bastard Islands/Highlands hybrid but a delicious and versatile all-rounder, is Highland Park, from Orkney.

And I can't believe that Dane erik r. had the choads to disparage both peat and dram in one little comment.

Anonymous said...

Toms book ' Spirit of Adventure ' , is a joy , whether you ar a fan of whisky or not .

Mind you, with his diet and other personal habits, I'm only sirprised he's lived so long ......,

Only kidding Tom .