Vermont Journal

from the B&B and around Vermont

Experience Single Malt Whisky & Haggis: 2 Scottish Specialties

Where can you get a taste of Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Haggis without traveling “across the pond”?  At West Hill House B&B, of course!

A Little Whisky History

Oban distillery plaque noting the whisky name and 1794 date of establishment.
Oban Distillery one of the earliest Scottish whisky distilleries.

Long associated with Scotland, whisky is made from only three ingredients: water, barley, and yeast. Master Distillers tend to the water and barley knowing just when to add the yeast to start the fermenting process.

Distilleries abound in Scotland, especially in Speyside in the Scottish Highlands and on the island of Islay in the Inner Hebrides. New distilleries are arriving on the scene however the more recognizable distilleries date back as far as several hundred years.

The Oban Distillery (please, it is pronounced Oh-Bin) dates back to 1794, The Glenlivet Distillery to 1824 and the Talisker Distillery to 1830.

Who Said What about Whisky
Robert Louis Stevenson mentioned Scotch in the poem ‘The Scotsman’s Return from Abroad’ written in 1880: The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay or Glenlivit.

Apparently, when Winston Churchill was a young subaltern in the South African War he reported, “The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learned to like it.” *

Robert Burns’ take on Solomon’s Proverb vs 31, 6 & 7:

  • Gie him strong Drink until he wink,
  • That’s sinking in despair;
  • An’ liquor guid to fire his bluid,
  • That’s prest wi’ grief an’ care:
  • There let him bowse an’ deep carouse,
  • Wi’ bumpers flowing o’er,
  • Till he forgets his loves or debts,
  • An’ minds his griefs no more.

Peter MacLaren notes, “My home country of Scotland produces many wonderful varieties of single malt Scotch. My preference is Talisker, but don’t let that influence you!”

Quaich decorated with Scottish thistle motif.
Silver Quaich for Scotch whisky.

Whisky Experience: Quaich Single Malt Bar
You are invited to enjoy our Quaich Single Malt Bar which offers 12 varieties of the golden liquid. As well as the three mentioned above, we offer The McCallan, Balvenie Doublewood, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Glenmorangie, and several others.

What is a Quaich?
A quaich is Scotland’s Cup of Friendship. Filled with a wee dram, it was used for a visitor’s welcome or farewell cup by both the titled and the humble. Through the ages, the quaich has kept it simple, graceful shape and friendly purpose. Centuries ago they were made of wood. By the 17th century they were often mounted in silver or entirely made of metal. Still used today for its original purpose, however more often given as a special gift for the birth of a child or to recognize someone’s outstanding achievement. We have one on display in our bar. Sorry, but for the Scotch Flight we don’t fill the quaich, we use shot glasses!

Pouring a flight of Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Enjoying a scotch whisky tasting.

A Scotch Flight
Don’t be afraid of Scotch. If you’d like a wee taste of several, or you’d like to learn a little more about Scotch, you are invited to our enjoy our Scotch Flight. Peter will offer 4 Single Malt Scotches with distinct flavorus, explain what part of Scotland they come from and what makes them distinct. Sláinte! (Good health!)

Visiting Scottish Whisky Distilleries
When you are planning your trip “across the pond” do your research and plan well ahead of time. Most distilleries in Scotland offer guided tours – with a tasting at the end! You’ll need to visit the website of your choice and make an online reservation and pay up-front. You can look up a specific distillery by name or by area such as Speyside which, by the way, is home to more than 50 distilleries! Learn about the distilling process. Also, over the past several years, many distilleries have been moving to more “green” ways of production. For example, being able to return about ¾ of the water used in the condensers, once cooled, from whence it came.

Oh, And the Haggis?

Yes, we have haggis and will be happy to give you a wee taste if requested along with your breakfast. It’s not awful and made with the icky bits you’ve heard about, those aren’t sold anymore. The haggis we have is made with tasty ground beef and lamb, oatmeal and spices. Also we don’t usually have bagpipes at breakfast – the photo is from one of the Burns Suppers we hosted in the Handsome Red Barn!

entry of the haggis
The haggis is ceremonially brought into the dining room proceeded by a piper.

If your trip to Scotland has to wait a few years, a trip to West Hill House B&B in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont will give you a wee taste of the old country! We look forward to welcoming you.

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