Picture This: Loch Voil and the Braes o’ Balquhidder

March 22, 2017 by Keith Savage
Loch Voil and the Balquhidder Braes, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Scotland

Winter’s distant light bursts like an epiphany over Loch Voil and the Braes o’ Balquhidder. That luminant lathe cleaves off the fatigue of waking half a day and a world away. Brisk air rolls down the hills, the loch’s fresh water overflows the shores, and everywhere light takes shape. At dusk the sundering sun flings light into Voil’s mirror to send the shadows skyward. Such beauty lies down many a fold in the heart of Scotland, through narrows long forgotten and over hills graced only by the sun’s daily tread.

From Ireland long ago came a man of Christian raiment to the Braes o’ Balquhidder… Read more...

The Spirit of Brigadoon at Edradour Distillery

March 15, 2017 by Keith Savage
Edradour Distillery, Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland

It seems only appropriate that Distillery Month on Traveling Savage was interrupted by a trip to Scotland where I worked at a distillery, but I’m back this week with a distillery that has long been near and dear to my heart: Edradour Distillery. Nestled in the hills of above Pitlochry in Perthshire, Edradour is among the first distilleries I ever visited in Scotland. I was struck then by its beauty, history, and indefatigable adherence to tradition. Places like Benromach, Kilchoman, and Strathearn all provide insight into the old ways of uisge beatha, but perhaps Edradour, as the smallest traditional farm distillery in Scotland, combines the various processes and stories of yesteryear into the most attractive and approachable package. Read more...

Strathearn Whisky School Trip Recap

March 8, 2017 by Keith Savage
Whisky School at Strathearn Distillery, Perthshire, Scotland

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley. So spaketh Robert Burns, and the words are as true today as they were in 1785 when he wrote them. I had intended to write a dispatch from Comrie last week, in the middle of my stint at the Strathearn Distillery whisky school, but I had not anticipated the intensity of the experience nor the frequency with which drinks were consumed in the evenings. One might say I had forgotten what a bro trip was like — the last one was my first trip to Europe back in 2003 — and I hope you will forgive my absence here last week. In my defense, I was active most days on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you’re curious what the trip was like in photos, check out those streams. Read more...

State of the Savage: February 2017

February 22, 2017 by Keith Savage
Freedom Is a Noble Thing - John Barbour

I hope you’ll excuse this detour from distillery month, but I felt the regularly scheduled State of the Savage was both timely and welcome for those not so interested in the ‘water of life.’ The big news is that I leave for Scotland on Friday! Over the last 10+ years of traveling in Scotland I’ve visited almost 50 distilleries, and it has long been a dream to work at one — even just for a short time — to learn the craft and capture a sense of the flow and camaraderie.

That dream becomes real next week.

Last November I spent a week in Perthshire… Read more...

Barrels of Silver and Gold: Old Pulteney by the Sea

February 15, 2017 by Keith Savage
Old Pulteney Distillery, Wick, Caithness, Scotland

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve written about Strathearn Distillery and Wolfburn Distillery, and I’m continuing distillery month with a look at another Caithness distillery: The venerable Old Pulteney Distillery in Wick. Since its founding in 1826 Old Pulteney has been one of the more difficult distilleries to visit in Scotland due to its geographical location in the far northeast hinge of the highlands. When the distillery was established everything was brought in by sea — barley, barrels, even men — and the finished whisky left by the same means. This heritage has given Old Pulteney’s whisky the moniker ‘The Maritime Malt,’ and as I would find out there’s more to this name than the history. Read more...