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That Time I Was Politely But Firmly Asked to Leave Their Speyside Grounds September 28, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

(The story continues.)

A dozen summers ago, my sister and I took a trip to Scotland. We were there about 2½ weeks, usually spending three nights per location. Alison had arranged for us to stay on working farms most of the time. Scottish farm holidays.

Of course, even in that amount of time, we couldn’t hit all the hot spots. We had to give up the Outer Hebrides altogether in order to visit the Shetlands. We went back and forth trying to choose between them, but something kept calling us north. The Shetlands turned out to be a major highlight of our trip. The day we hiked to Scotland’s northernmost tip, spent hours with puffins (who had not, after all, “moved on”), and returned to our car, where a late-afternoon tea packed lovingly by our hostess awaited us . . . well, that day was one of the best days of my life.

But our three nights in the Highlands—by scheduling default, really—were not well timed. Scotch wasn’t the priority for us on that trip, and we hadn’t thought through the fact that weekend arrival would turn distillery tours into quiet affairs, what with workers off having weekends themselves. By 10 a.m., after a brief tour, we were sipping Oban—toasting our parents’ 39th wedding anniversary—in a nearly empty room, and I was plotting a trip to The Macallan.

At the time, there were no public tours at The Macallan. One had to make an appointment. On a weekday.

Years before, when we lived in DC, a coworker of Tim’s, aware of Tim’s passion for fly fishing, offered him tickets to a snooty event sponsored by a well-known fly-fishing retailer, an event that featured a couple of famous anglers, a lot of smoked salmon, and a Macallan tasting. It was a wonderful evening, but we were clearly the least-moneyed people in the room. I shudder now to think about what I might have worn, as even my good stuff couldn’t have been good enough. I sat between Tim and a lovely gentleman who ran “a little art gallery downtown.” His name was Phillips.

Tim eventually went to work for that fly-fishing retailer, and the company still had a bit of a relationship with The Macallan at the time that I was in Scotland. I really like their scotch. I wanted to see that pretty mansion on the box. Maybe, I said to Alison, we could just drive onto the grounds, walk around a little, drive away.

But when we got there, there was tour bus parked outside the pretty mansion.

In we went.

The room was crowded with German tourists. We were immediately offered some scotch, which we accepted. We walked around the room a bit, taking the place in, checking out the selection of spirits available for purchase.

But some German ratted us out.

A staff member approached us. It had been reported that we were not part of the group. We had to leave.

I mentioned my husband’s business connection. She didn’t care.

I mentioned that I had really, really wanted to buy my husband a bottle of their scotch as a souvenir. She briefly relented.

Although it was a blend (unthinkable!), I bought a limited-edition bottle commemorating the 35th anniversary of the magazine Private Eye. The lure was that this blend included one cask (number 1580) from 1961, the year the magazine was launched and the year my husband was born. (Doing a Google search now, I’m finding that one of those 5,000 bottles sold at a 2006 auction for £240. I did not pay that. Plus, we opened ours.)

She let me pay, and then she kicked us out.

Which gives me bragging rights to having been kicked out of a distillery in Scotland.

So there.


1. Bridgett - September 28, 2009

Dang Germans.

2. Dona - September 28, 2009

What a story, IB! I’ll remember to tell it at our next Burns night. Don’t think I’ve tried Macallan’s — I like Obans, Laphroaig, or Ardbeg.

3. Bridgett - September 29, 2009

Macallans is good. I stood at my parents’ bar yesterday afternoon spying the bottle and decided it was too early in the day. It wasn’t even 10:30 in the morning…

4. Mali - September 29, 2009

I love it! I’m not really a whisky drinker … yet …

5. helen - September 29, 2009

I love these stories. They make you seem so sophisticated yet approachable. And reproachable.

6. indigo bunting - September 30, 2009

And Helen, I wish I could put three sentences together that sound like that. Almost Cole Porter, but delightfully Helen.

7. Adam Byrn Tritt - September 30, 2009

I like to tell the story of how my wife was kicked out of Israel for shopping. A Jew, removed from Israel, actually escorted to the plane, for shopping.

But alcohol was not involved.

8. indigobunting - September 30, 2009

OK, Adam. I await a blog post. Seriously. This sounds good.

9. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - October 1, 2009

A friend and I were thrown out of a Chinese restaurant once. Something to do with setting the little paper drink umbrellas on fire, and then causing a stink because they brought us our change in an assortment of foreign currency. The restaurant was one floor up, but the entry door was at the bottom. We were a little surprised that we didn’t feel a shove as we were descending the stairs, but there was definitely a loud slam and the click of a door being locked once we had exited.

Alcohol WAS involved.

10. indigo bunting - October 1, 2009

Craig, that wasn’t me with you, was it? If alcohol WAS involved, I might not remember.

11. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - October 1, 2009

No, I was with Lesley, at a restaurant across from the Silver Spring metro.

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