Illustrations by Tony Husband. Words by Noble, BSP & Richard Roberts.
The esteemed radio DJ Marc Riley not only loves his music, he has a great love of Cetaceans, Porpoises, Dolphins and wildlife in general. He spends lots of his free time in their company.
Over the years he's been organising trips away with like minded friends to the wilder reaches of the British Isles to gawp at natural wonders, and have a few drinks.
This September, Marc and Jimi Goodwin (Doves), aka 'The Goodwin & Riley Travel Agency', helped organise a weekend trip to the Isle of Mull for a full on Scottish Wildlife Experience. Amongst the crew was award winning cartoonist and all round good egg, Tony Husband, who documented our trip for Drowned In Sound.
I had planned to do the full weekend with Marc and Co, but BSP got offered to play the Away Game festival on the Isle of Eigg close to Mull which was an impossible trip to turn down. For the hell of it, we agreed to play a show at the 60 capacity show on Mull too, at the An Tobar Arts Centre in Tobermory. This meant that we could spend Thursday and Friday with Marc and Co, before we travelled to Eigg on the Saturday.
We all drove up to Oban on the Thursday, and Jimi got lost on the way up, ending up near Dunfermline on the opposite coast. Jimi still made it in time for the Whisky session, thanks to film maker Ceri Levys' map reading skills. We all convened in the nearby pub for a Whisky Sampling session.
One of Marc's good mates, Richard Roberts, gave us some advice before we started sampling: "Whoa, whoa, don't jump straight in there, look at her legs, smell her perfume" He recalled his first awakening to whisky so we could savour the scottish moonshine.
"About my whisky awakening earlier this year. It was a special night (and a long following day). I am now converted and on the road to ruin. I was up in St Andrews for the British Open golf with two mates. We were staying in a little B&B and the owner suggested that we visited a specialist whisky bar close by. He had obviously tipped off the bar owner that we may be coming as we were welcomed by our names - small place Scotland!! I guess if they are told that a very handsome bald fella is going to come in with two mates in waterproofs, we stood out!! Ha!
We had a few pints and then he suggested a whisky tasting session. There can be nobody more passionate about every drink he served. He announced to two of us blessed with good size snouts that we'd be pleased to hear that the size of the hooter plays a part in the whisky experience!!
Of course in tasting the national drink, we would not be following the French who have the peculiar habit of spitting out their whisky and wine. This kind of behaviour is frowned upon in more civilised societies and I am sure that we would have been thrown into the river if we followed the French.
Anyway when the first drink is poured, I am in a rush and dead keen to get a taste of this beautiful looking drink he has placed before us. No chance of that. We are instructed to swirl the whisky round the glass 4 or 5 times and look for her legs running down the glass. How could you forget this advice
'The younger she is, the faster and closer together her legs will run. Her older sisters legs will be bigger and run away more slowly........and remember this, the older she is the further apart her legs will be'.
I thought he was bulling us but it's all there in the tasting notes for all whiskeys. Always check out the legs and enjoy them!! Who couldn't Then I get right into it and he pulls me back - no, no, no, no, no Richie. Please take your time with this quite mature lady. She wants you to enjoy her slowly. Relax get closer and breath in her perfume - tell me what you can smell.
We are advised to hold her close and hold mouths open slightly so we will take in more of her perfume. Now it's time to open her up and give her a wee splash of water. We are ready to taste. By this time I am more than ready to get stuck in!!
Now taste her slowly and gently and swirl her round your mouth and be sure that she has travelled to all parts of your tongue. I'll never forget him shouting out - is she dancing on your tongue?? (if only!!) We spent the night there trying about 7 whiskeys (with a limoncello between each tasting to clear the palate) so I had a long following day but worth every minute of discomfort. It was a great introduction to a great drink and you know every time I try a new whiskey, the whole experience is so much more enjoyable than simply ordering a drinking and banging it down"
With Rich's advice we tried our best.
AMATEUR SAMPLING NOTES:
Talisker - Peaty, Smoky, Slightly fishy. Oban - Smoky, Lavender, Sweet and dry. Woody smoke. A whiff of ladies perfume. As We Get It (made by Ian Mcleods) - Like sucking on lemon bon bons. This one is 57.9%, and made our manager burp instantly. Glenfarclas - Another Smoky one. We're all fans of the smoky ones. No other comments other than 'mmmm that's nice" Mcallen - Speyside single malt. A bit of sherry in there. Sweet. 9/10. Very nice Tobermory from Mull. A bit too sweet for us, but it disguises the alcohol content. Can be drunk straight from the bottle. Ian Macleods - It was getting late so we just knocked this one back. Bowmore - 12yr Old Islay single Malt. Smells a bit of lemon. Nice and smoky. Excellent. Jura - 10 yr half bottle. The half bottle is small enough to fit in your inside pocket to take home.
Read Part Two of the Mull Trip here