Useful links if you want to know more about Scotland

I fell in love with Scotland... with its mountains and waterfalls, beautful forests and lochs it was very much like Ireland, only with bagpipes and kilts. I'm unfailingly awestruck by the cathedrals and abbeys... I can't get enough of them, because they're all different in some way. I love old architecture, if it's ancient I drool. I can't accurately describe how I feel when I'm there, except that I feel completely at peace; it feels like home to me. I would move here if I could afford to do it.

I also fell in love with the people, they were so welcoming and willing to help - a woman happened to be driving by and saw us struggling up a hill with our luggage so she drove us up the steep drive to our hotel, a stranger gave me change for the turnstile when I needed to use the bathroom at the train station, and a wonderful lady at the Dunkeld Cathedral gift shop gave me a free postcard just because it was raining outside. I had nice conversations with several strangers who were always more than happy to share their country with me.

If Scotland is in your blood--go--you won't be sorry.


Courtyard of the Palace of Holyrood House


  • Craig Flynn (Scotland / Ireland) - I used trains to get around for part of the trip, and it was a pain in the ass because we were subject to their timetables; not so convenient when you visit the smaller towns (and no place to stash the luggage). The part I enjoyed most was the time spent with Craig and his wife. You can't beat a tour guide who knows where he's going, knows his history, is willing to share the hidden gems with you, and has a great sense of humor to boot.
  • Undiscovered Scotland - Great source of information on all the cities and sites
  • Map of Edinburgh (touristy version so you can find your way around)
  • Daylight Hours by month
  • Trip Advisor - Recommendations from people who have been there
  • Logan Cottage - This was my favorite bed and breakfast (it's in Inverness). The owners were very welcoming and thought of everything, from the fluffy bathrobe, to soaps and lotions, to a free dram of whiskey, a small refrigerator and a selection of dvds.
  • First ScotRail - Train timetables / routes
  • Passport Information
    --  Currency Conversions - For exchange rates, call the 24-hour Exchange Rate Hotline at 1-800-756-7050 and press option #1 (listen for the second rate... first one is the rate for trading, if you're going to exchange currencies, the second one (unfortunately higher) is the price you'll pay)


Entrance to Holyrood Abbey

Places you don't want to miss


McCaig's Folly in Oban

Activities & Items of Interest


Hamish, the Highland Coo

Photos I took on my trip to Scotland



Edinburgh Castle, literally a part of Scotland. I've only seen it from the outside, but I intend to remedy that on my next trip. I did go to the military tattoo last time, which was amazing (it was held in the courtyard of the castle, so I got close). We got to see pipe bands, plus bands from all over the world. There was a drum and fife band from Boston, a band from Russia, as well as a steel drum band from Trinidad and Tobago.


St. Giles Cathedral. I love cathedrals and abbeys. This one is particularly amazing because connected to it is Thistle Chapel where the royals went to church. It's an amazing piece of work, intricate chairs, coats of arms... everywhere you looked it was breathtaking. As for St. Giles, it had the best stained glass I've ever seen, and you can see the progression of time in the artistry of the windows. I went last time, and I'm going back again.

These limbs sticking out from the ground reminded me of bagpipe drones


I love all the miniature waterfalls, and the green moss in Dunkeld. This was the day it rained all day long. I was soaked to the bone but I didn't care. Walking in the rain feels good, and since I'm not a witch, and I'm not made of sugar, I don't melt.


A gorgeous cathedral in Dunkeld. On the day we visited there was a wedding in the functional part of the cathedral so there were bagpipes playing in the background and it was drizzling. It was wonderful.

(Above) Dunkeld Cathedral

(Below) Albannach in Edinburgh at the foot of the Scott Monument. My feet were tired and achy and I was starting to get cranky, but seeing them play made me forget it all. They have so much energy, and I'm a pipe and drum fiend anyway... I started to imagine dancing around a fire at night, or watching armies march into battle... it's very powerful stuff and the video doesn't do them justice.


The Scott Monument, a tribute to Sir Walter Scott


A cemetery in Edinburgh


A footbridge in Inverness


Footpath in the cemetery outside The Church of the Holy Rude ("rude" means "cross")




Castle Urquhart


Loch Long (from Eleanan Donan Castle)


Fort William, I love days like this where the sky is dark and the colors pop


Glencoe, this was Craig's favorite spot in Scotland. I admit that it's picturesque, but I prefer the forests.


Sunset in Oban, I love the silhouette of the man tipping his hat in the background


St. Conan's Kirk... go there... seriously...


More from St. Conan's Kirk


Coat of Arms from St. Conan's Kirk


Cobbled streets in Stirling


How to taste whisky

Notes from a whisky tasting party I had (I went a little crazy getting the little sample bottles of whisky... they really brainwash you into buying them, they're everywhere). I don't remember where I got the information from but if I can find it I'll post the link. Whisky is a lot like wine in that I know there is supposed to be some hints of pear and apple in there... but except in Glenrothes (raisins and honey, it was my favorite), I couldn't identify them... all I can say is that they have slight variations in flavor and everyone prefers something different. In our tasting, Auchentoshan (Three Wood), Glenrothes, and Monkey Shoulder came out on top (though Monkey Shoulder was mixed, you either loved it or hated it).


The distillery is at Camelon, just north of Falkirk, on the bank of the Forth-Clyde Canal. The first record of distilling activity here was in 1798 by Messrs Stark.  During the 1840's, the maltings of the Camelon distillery were acquired by James Rankine, a local grocer and wine and spirit merchant. He rebuilt the distillery and began to produce a whisky of high quality. Such was the demand from the blenders that he sold it on allocation. These were the beginnings of the most well-known of the Lowland malts.

In 1894, Rosebank Distillery Ltd. was formed. In 1914, it was among the companies that amalgamated to form the Scottish Malt Distillers before the group became part of DCL.  Despite being widely regarded as the most distinguished of the Lowland malts, Rosebank Distillery was closed in 1993.

Nose:  Light and perfumed.  Slightly volatile, with fruit esters: peach and apricot initially, then pear and apple.  Some grassy notes developing to heather eventually.

Palate:  Medium-bodied.  Exotic fruit attack, with the apricot and peach most evident, alongside some honey. Floral, with some welcome spices.  Water reveals some citrus and ginger flavours.

Finish: Warm and quite dry with good length, lingering fruit and spice and some more savoury notes coming through.

Comment:  Very pleasant dram, if slightly volatile.  A thoroughbred nonetheless. At its best with a tiny drop of water to smooth out the edges.  Our first bottling of Rosebank was similar and settled down beautifully after a few months in bottle.


The founders of the distillery in 1878 included James Stuart who was at that time the owner of the Macallan-Glenlivet distillery; Unfortunately the company went bankrupt in the midst of  construction, but was rescued and completed with a £600.00 loan from the United Presbyterian Church at neighboring Knockando.

The distillery was acquired by Highland Distillers in 1887, and changed hands again in 1999 when the Highland Distillers group was purchased by the Edrington Group for £601 million.

Nose: Raisins, sultanas, plums, bananas and malty honey tones. Although sherried, still quite fresh.

Taste: Very soft, slightly tannic and dry. Dried apricots and bubblegum.

Overall: Flavoursome but still fresh. 


The village of Blackford is known for its brewery since the 15th century, and whisky has been produced there as early as 1700.  However, the current Tullibardine distillery is more recent as it was built in 1949 on the site of an old brewery.  The distillery has been built by the well known architect Delmé Evans who also built amongst others, the distillery of Glenallachie and Jura. Evans died on 6 october 2003, aged 83.

The distillery was bought in 1953 by a Glasgow broker, Brodie Hepburn and became part or the Invergordon Distillers in 1971. It capacity doubled in 1974, but the distillery was mothballed in 1950.  Its current owners, Whyte and Mackay made important alterations in order to resume whisky production in 2004.  A small part of the production is marketed as single malt, the remaining being used in blends like Scots Grey and Glenfoyle.

Nose:  Clearly marked by sherry and presents nice smoky notes. Very rich and complex, the pleasure the nose gives is enhanced by dry fruit smells and slightly woody touches.

Palate: Clearly sherryish too, with first an intense bitterness followed by quite acid notes, before developing on a nice balance mixing sherry with fruity and woody notes. A very pleasant mouth.

Finish:  Pleasant and lingering, warm and slightly dominated by woody notes unsuccessfully trying to hide the sherry hints. An alcohol impression is amazingly present at the finish. Amazing, because neither at the nose nor in the palate, any alcohol hinder was detected. The whole is really nice.


The Ben Nevis distillery was founded in 1925 by (Long) John MacDonald. It is named after the highest mountain of United Kingdom (1334 meter). When Long John died in 1856, his son Donald MacDonald took over the business, and his was so successful that he had to build another distillery he called Glen Nevis. This last one was closed in 1908, and is used since this time as warehouse for Ben Nevis.  The production increased tenfold by 1887.

In 1955, the distillery became the property of Joseph W Hobbs, also owner of Bruichladdich, Glenesk, Glenkinchie, Glenury Royal and Lochside.  Hobbs installed a Coffey Still and Ben Nevis was the first distillery to produce malt and grain whisky.  The distillery was acquired by the Long John group, itself part of the Whitbread group in 1981. The distillery was extended, but closed 2 years later, in 1984. During this alteration works, the Coffey still was suppressed.

The distillery closed again in 1986 until it was purchased by the japanese group The Nikka Whisky Distilling Company Ltd in 1989.  Ben Nevis reopened in 1990.  A large proportion of the production is used in blends, among others for Glencoe and Dew of Ben Nevis.

Nose:  Sultanas and butter. A little sweet mint and some chestnuts. Candied peel and ginger, with a little citrus.

Palate:  Very sweet, velvety and viscous. Sexy texture with satisfying balance of orangey fruitiness, flowers and malt.

Finish:  Gingerbead.

Comment:  Tasty stuff.


This is named after an afflication of distillery workers engaged in the back-breaking work of turning malt.

A blended malt made up of whisky from Kininvie, Glenfiddich and Balvenie. Kininvie has been in production for over a decade but without a bottling of any kind coming onto the market.   It is a bottling of just 27 bourbon casks.

Staff Tasting Notes
Banana, penny sweets (Mojo mints and strawberry laces), custard powder.

Palate: Vanilla, cola bottles and generic fruit. A dry, short mentholated finish.

Overall: Attractive, cute and easy-drinking. Doesn't take water. 

AUCHENTOSHAN – 10 Year and Three Wood

 Auchentoshan is the distillery closest to Glasgow and can be reached in around 20 minutes from the City Centre. Auchentoshan is Scotland's only triple distilled single malt. This unique distilling process - whereby the spirit is not distilled twice, as elsewhere in Scotland, but instead, distilled three times - produces a delicate, smooth and light single malt.

Auchentoshan was established in 1823, and is one of only three remaining Lowland distilleries. Its whiskies have been described by one whisky writer, Paul Pacult, as "the quintessential Lowland Single Malt; it doesn’t get better." Michael Jackson, one of the world's foremost authorities on whisky has said of Auchentoshan "This is a classic Lowland distillery, not only in its location, but also in its adherence to triple distillation. Light-bodied whiskies result; light in flavour, too... If you fancy single malts...Auchentoshan offers the perfect answer: subtlety."

Auchentoshan has also won many international awards - including Double Gold and Gold Medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Gold Medals at the International Wine and Spirit Competition. 

Nose:  Scenty. Definite linseed. Lemon grass. Vanilla.

Palate:  Light, soft, oily, mashmallow-like. Good flavour development. From lemony to cedary.

Finish:  Rounded. Soothing, long.

Comment:  At 10 years, Auchentoshan makes an expressive, eloquent claim to being the classic Lowlander.


Amongst the nine distilleries around Dufftown, Mortlach is the oldest one. The second is Glenfiddich, founded by William Grant who was production manager at Mortlach.  The distillery was created by James Findlater and two of his friends, Donald McIntosh and Alexander Gordon on a ground hired from the Earl of Mactuff. The creation date is not known for sure, but the licence was officially delivered in 1823.

The distillery was taken over by John Gordon who marketed its whisky under the name "The real John Gordon."  John Gordon also had the idea to put 20 cows on the surrounding grounds in order to clear its stock of distillery waste.

In 1853, John Gordon took George Cowie as a partner. Cowie became the only owner when John died in 1867His son, Alexander Mitchell Cowie built a railway from the distillery to the Dufftown station.  Alexander's only son died during the war in 1917 and the distillery has been sold to John Walker & co. Walker joined DCL which become soon SMD before being integrated within UDV.

A new distillery was  built in 1964, but the old stills were used.  The malting floors were suppressed in 1968, and since the late 1990's the process is computer aided.

Nose:  Poached pears, melon and lychees, along with vanilla. Attractive. With water there is more floral character, like standing in a florists trying to choose what to get her.

Palate:  Lightly toffeish, with melon and Jelly Babies.

Finish:  Brown bread maltiness.

Comment:  Balanced, attractive and a rightdown- the-middle Speysider. An anytime dram.