The Saturday night at Maltstock is marked by the campfire. Always noted on the programme as weather dependent, thankfully the rain had just about abated by this point.
This year the first part of the campfire evening was a tasting of some whiskies from BenRiach, GlenDronach and the newly acquired member of the group Glenglassaugh (bets are still open as to which letter in the middle of the word is to be capitalised…) hosted by Donald MacLellan, the company’s International Market Development Executive. Some tasty drams were consumed, not least an example of the big sherry monsters that GlenDronach have been producing in recent times, and a few interesting tales regaled by Donald.
Next up was the comedy legend that is Mr Jock Shaw. With his usual stories and songs, Jock was once again a hit, commenting on all the nations that had representatives present at Maltstock. His eldest son was then dragged up to take the mick out of Jock (I’m sure partly just so he didn’t feel left out at not being singled out for ‘abuse’).
One of the organisers, Bob, then finished proceedings by thanking all those who continue to support Maltstock and, as it was he 5th such event, all those who had been present every year were given goody bags.
After the official entertainment had ended, we stayed around the fire for a while, not just because it was giving out some warmth, but also to enjoy both a delightful cigar kindly offered to me by cigar-afficianado Sander and the bottle of Talisker Port Ruighe we had brought from the main table.
After heading back to the Kiln, we again sat up for a few more hours (only until 2am this time!), and enjoyed another Port Ellen courtesy of all round good guy Jon Beach of The Fiddler’s Bar in Drumnadrochit – this time his own vatting of various ages, strengths and amounts of various Port Ellen bottlings.
- Starting the long journey home
We woke up, or more accurately, were woken up by the rain, which had decided to appear. After another excellent breakfast, again courtesy of The Highlander Inn, it was time to depart. We had been planning to catch a taxi into Nijmegen and then the train up to Amsterdam, but were offered a lift direct to Schiphol. Arriving there at about 1pm and with our flight not until just before 9, we decided to leave our bags and head into the city centre. Even on the continent,, we couldn’t get away from rail replacement coach services and joined the queue for the coach to Sloterdijk, from where we could catch a train to Amsterdam Centraal.
We swiftly let the island that contains the station (and very little else), heading south past a historic tram:
We wandered round looking for a bar and after a while found the small bar next to the distillery of Wynand Fockink, but as we were there half an hour prior to opening went for a further walk before returning. Having arrived back only 10 minutes after it opened, it was already heaving – turnover proved to be swift though, it seemed as if patrons had a quick genever/liqueur/beer and then left. Fockink have been producing their wares since around 1730, including this example. We stayed for 2 genevers and 2 beers each (and to have the customary photos below the sign) before heading off to find food.
So when in Amsterdam, what do you eat? Well if you’re us, Chinese! OK, it may not be authentic, but it was damn tasty.
Eating over with, we headed back to Centraal station (slowly you’ll understand) to do the reverse journey (and rail replacement coach) back to Schiphol.
As it turned out, our flight was 2 hours late, much of which was spent in Murphy’s Irish Pub, in our defence it was the nearest drinking establishment.
Arriving back at Heathrow well after 11pm meant an arrival back at Hemel of just before 1am – I wish I’d booked the Monday of work.
One piece of advice, if you get the opportunity to go to Maltstock, take it! The combination of whisky, relaxation and general continental goodness is not something that’s easy to replicate and it’s well worth the €200 or so.
I’ll definitely be back in 2014.