April 2012

The Meadows, Edinburgh, Scotland

I had a “deep thought” today as my dad and I drove out of Edradour distillery on our way to the 1,200-year old Pictish Aberlemno Stone in Angus. You see, I’ve been digging at my obsession with Scotland and trying to understand the basis of its origin. I was a psychology major after all. But why no love for the good old USA? Surely the States’ natural beauty measures up to Scotland. Home sweet home has plenty of attractions like the Kentucky Bourbon Trail…um, Wall Drug, and…the Corn Palace? I kid, but seriously, what’s the deal?

Enter the “deep thought.” America is like blended whisky and Scotland is like single malt whisky. That could be the Edradour talking but stick with me. Read more...


It’s late April but January descends on Edinburgh with Baltic east winds whipping the tree blossoms with knives of liquid ice raining down into lank hair and defeated jackets. I exit the bus and stalk down the sidewalk. Students and businessmen and dog walkers sprint and weave around each other. The sun somehow shines behind the rain. I cross an alley, spot this, and stop dead. Edinburgh Castle poses in the gray heavens. The white clouds cast a wan visage, and yet I’m drawn down the cobblestone street toward it.

From nearly every vantage point in the city I can spot its massive red and tan bulk fading toward the black volcanic plug upon which it stands. The castle is above the trash in the gutters of Cowgate, the students thronging down Nicholson Street, the buses and bikers and cabs and dogs cutting at vectors across each others’ erratic paths. It is above the teensy preoccupations and meaningless fears filling our minds as we pass beneath it, through its shadow.


30,000 Feet Over Scotland

Today I return to Scotland. It’s been seven long months since I returned home from my last trip, and yet those months have, paradoxically, gone by quite quickly. Still, now I’m in the air: Milwaukee-Newark-Edinburgh.

I’m excited.

I have three weeks to crawl up the navel of Scotland, from Edinburgh to Perthshire to Speyside to Easter Ross to Orkney, and I’m with my dad who just so happens to be a fellow Scotophile (Caledonophile?). The stops on this trip are some of my favorites in all of Scotland and I’m going at the best time of year (regarding light, weather, and tourists). There will be rain. There’s always rain. But I’m ready to see Scotland again. Read more...


Delicious Drams at Aberlour Distillery

A few weeks ago I wrote a post that described five single malts that are perfect for the beginning Scotch drinker, the aspiring whisky aficionado. My impending return to Scotland – I leave Wednesday – has me reminiscing over my personal favorite single malts, many of which will soon be available to me in the pubs of Scotland.

The list was long and I agonized over the process of culling it down to only five malts. I’ve excluded some amazing drams I’ve had at distilleries because they’re so rare and my sample size is literally one drink – it’s just not enough to make it onto my list of all-time favorites.

So where do I begin?


South of the town of Forres, off in the hilly woodlands between the Moray coast and Speyside, I stroll amidst the moody Tullochwood. The last fingers of daylight lance the path, and large, black slugs ooze in the soft mosses. The twilight becomes corporeal as it descends beneath the canopy, given shape by the infinitesimal floating pollens and insects. There is no breeze, no random gusts, just a humid bubble of green air like the breath of the forest before exhalation. Tree shadows splice the forest into bands of heat and chill. A rumpled meadow is shot through with ferns just breaking the surface.

Old forests are alien and welcome. I clamber over mounds and deeper into shadow thinking of Tullochwood like a sibling or parent separated from me at birth.