MoraySpeyside

The Dulaig, Luxury Bed & Breakfast, Grantown-on-Spey, Scotland

Here’s a secret: I’m a homebody. I like my routines, the familiarity of home and family and friendship. There’s a comfort in moving through a world defined, and it was so strong as a child that I did everything in my power to avoid sleepovers. By its very nature travel wrests us from the cobwebs of comfort, casting us into foreign places filled with foreign experiences and foreign thoughts. The irony is that I also love to travel, and it can be hard to reconcile these two forces. Traveling with family and friends goes a long way, but you know what else helps? Staying in places that feel like home, places that exude comfort and warmth and make you forget just how far away home is. Such places are treasures… Read more...

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Five great small towns in Scotland

I enjoy cities when I travel, but I’m most happy when exploring the countryside, combing over the hills and glens for secret places and small towns. The cultural texture is just more immediate where globalization’s far-reaching fingers have farther to stretch, and it is among these places where the character of older times remains strong. Experiencing those “older times” is a large part of the joy I get out of traveling. To feel different, to feel out of place — not in an uncomfortable way — is a magical feeling.

I most often find that feeling in Scotland’s small towns, and once you get beyond Edinburgh and Glasgow that’s pretty much all there is… Read more...

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Benromach 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Some time ago I received a sample of Benromach 10 with the understanding that I would taste it and share my thoughts, whatever they might be. You can’t imagine how happy I was to receive that sample. It has been a secret wish of mine to get into writing whisky tasting notes. Though I admit some doubt in my olfactory faculties, command of vernacular and vocabulary may well make up for any deficit in that realm. We shall see, I suppose.

For regular readers, Benromach will be no stranger. I’ve written two articles here about my visits to the distillery, and it remains high on my list of favorite distilleries in Scotland. Read more...

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The town of Aberlour in Speyside

There is no homier place in all of Scotland than Speyside and Moray. My visits to this gorgeous, green region always seem to be sun-dappled, full of good cheer and just the right amount of liquid gold. There’s so much whisky here you’d think the wide, relaxed River Spey was made of the stuff, but it is the work of man’s modern alchemy and the primary way of life for the people who live here. This region is a mecca for whisky-lovers the world over, as the many whisky festivals attest, and it is no stranger to tourism – not by a long shot – but rarely have I felt such a right and harmonious energy. Whatever you are not – not a whisky drinker, not an outdoorsy person, not a walker – here you will become. Read more...

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The peat fire at Stein Inn, Isle of Skye

There are few things finer than a good Scottish pub. Happily, Scotland’s littered with them. Just about every town has at least one cozy watering hole for locals and travelers alike and often a handful to choose from. Even the forlorn and unpeopled glens and hills often have, as their sole outpost of civilization, a fine institution of the dram and pint, places like the Grouse Inn and the Old Forge. Indeed, finding a fine Scottish pub is not hard.

Finding a pub that beguiles you for a lifetime, that draws you back across oceans and seas to step through that doorway to a tin-ceilinged, peat-smoky memory of old, where a healthy dose of camaraderie is doled out to every patron, well, that is a bit harder. Those pubs are the rare pubs. Read more...

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