A recurring theme amongst the outdoor/hiking blogs I read is the topic of whisky as an in-camp reward after a long day walking. There is something perfect about a dram with a splash of water from a nearby burn whilst sat amongst the heather and grass, with the sun dropping over the horizon. Enjoying the spirit in the landscape that shaped it’s character.

I must admit, a titanium mug isn’t the ideal choice of drinking vessel for a fine single malt, but I make do. I reckon one of those kuksas the nordic lads use would be good. I’m lucky in that being Scottish and male, if people are struggling for a gift at Christmas or Birthday you invariably end up with a bottle of whisky. I find it helps if you make it known you’re partial to a wee dram to ensure best results. πŸ™‚

A few years back I was a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society who have two fantastic premises in Edinburgh and a huge range of exclusive whiskies. One at the Vaults in Leith [wood panelling, open fires, leather chairs] and Queen Street [central townhouse, contemporary decor], despite the image this may conjure, both are very relaxed and not stuffy at all.

The Society buys casks and bottles their own Malts from a variety of distilleries. Bottles are assigned a code to denote which distillery it came from, to try and remove the baggage a brand name may carry and focus your attention on the drink itself. Once I moved out of Edinburgh though, regular visits became less viable, so I gave up my membership. Before I did I managed to get myself along to the odd tasting and splashed out on the odd bottle here and there, I only have about a fifth of a bottle left. It’s a 16yo, cask strength, distillery code 4 [Highland Park]. I should really do a Pepsi challenge alongside the 16yo Highland Park available from the supermarket before I finish it…

I’ve managed to acquire one or two nice bottles over the years, although the only really special one I have left is the 30yo cask strength Auchroisk bottled by Douglas Laing, that Margaret bought me for my thirtieth birthday. She accidentally left the price on the bottom of the bottle, when I saw it I re-corked the bottle and put it back in the cupboard. πŸ™‚ Maybe I’ll see if I can keep it until I get a bottle of 60yo. πŸ˜‰

In terms of whisky for camp, I prefer a peat monster of some description. Ardbeg is a favourite, although anything from Islay will do. I find gentler, subtler whiskies tend to lose something as the aroma is carried off on the wind. In general a splash of water is essential to bring out the full flavour, and particularly is it’s cask strength, to avoid anaesthetising your tongue. I only tend to carry enough for one or two, in part due to the weight, but I tend to get heartburn if I drink too much. I know a lot of people struggle with the Islays a bit, too medicinal, like TCP. I think they’re something that grows on you though…

I haven’t bought a bottle for myself for some time, as I’m trying to work my way through what I’ve got already. Next time though I fancy and Lagavulin.

So what’s your preferred on-hill tipple? Whisky, Pan-galactic gargle blaster or something else?