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A Highland Whisky Moment

A Highland Whisky Moment

Little Gruinard River

A Highland Whisky Moment

Waking up in a large familiar house with the faint smell of a room not been aired for a while, I pull back the freshly pressed sheets and itchy wool blanket to swivel out of bed and reach over to pull back the curtains of a dormer window. It reveals a North West coast highland view that I have come to know as my second home.

Dressed, I make my way downstairs past a couple of well framed local artists paintings, through the sitting room that emanates last night’s lovely aroma of a wood and peat fire and old cigarette smoke. Looking out of the picture window over the gravel drive and freshly mown lawn to see Beinn Ghobhlach (Ben Golach) sitting majestically on the horizon, I make my way to the kitchen and sit at the head of the long oak dining table. A steaming bowl of porridge is quickly consumed for there is much to do with the day ahead.

I’m trout fishing at the ‘First Loch’ above Little Gruinard River.

Boots on I grab my now elderly wax jacket that smells of damp dog. There’s not one around, nor has it been used as a dogs bed, that comforting smell is through a life time of abuse and neglect of a trusted and well used friend.

My fishing bag is thrown over my head and shoulder and I head to the barn to collect my rod. I’m off up the steep drive at a fast pace, there’s no time to waste; there are fish to be caught.

It’s overcast with a light drizzle, hardly a breath of wind. This is August and the midges are going to be a challenge if it’s like this up at the loch.

Through the gate and over the road by the bridge, the rush of the very full, brown looking river is roaring as it dances around the rocks peeking out mid-stream. There was a heavy down pour last night; it determined that trout over salmon would be the order of the day.

Eyes down as I rock hop up the well-worn path, a steady incline with occasional puddles, the path is more used by sheep and deer than man, not for those that like to bumble and ramble…

A fence approaches and cuts across the path heading sharp right, straight up the hill and into the horizon. I avoid the style and head up beside the fence. Damp heather soaking the shins of my greying moleskins; one hand on the fence the other tightly gripping my rod, I’m nearly at the top. A grouse gets a fright and takes flight, flapping its wings wildly then slowly gliding to a spot a wee bit lower down.

I’m greeted by the loch glistening in the light as the sun has parted the clouds; the reeds on the near shore bending in the wind; relief, the breeze up here is too strong for the midges to cause havoc.

The first loch is maybe 300 metres across, I start making my round to a familiar spot, the wind behind me and the sun in my eyes. Laying down my rod, I take off my fishing bag and open my jacket. I take a seat on a small group of moss covered rocks and as I open my bag there is a faint clunk as my fly box knocks against my whisky flask.

My flask is past its best, with dents and scrapes but the top is secure and saves me from ever having to think about replacing it.

Taking in the scene: mountains, rolling hills, a large forest on the other side of the river in the valley below, I gently unscrew the lid of my flask to take a wee nip. As I start to tilt the flask towards my lips a buzzard is screeching and flies past and a dragonfly lands on my knee.

Undiluted liquid gold; it stirs memories of the many nights before; whisky, water of life, welcome to my world.

Colin Gilchrist (whisky enthusiast), guest blogger.

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