January Outturn 2023 Article & Unfiltered #56 April 2021
How can outdoor activities heighten our appreciation of whisky? We tackle everything from a gentle stroll to throwing yourself off a cliff in a wingsuit (saving the whiskies until afterwards of course). Here are 12 different takes on how to combine your favourite fresh-air pursuit with a Society dram.
YOUNG & SPRITELY: YOGA
Neil Aitken, International Director, SMWS
Early morning yoga on Portobello beach draws the most parallels with the unforgettable first sip of an anticipated dram. Unlike the other activities, yoga is not high octane – it’s more mindful, delivering a heightened awareness of sense of environment and self. Time and pace go into slow motion, and you remember that perfect moment for the rest of the day.
SWEET, FRUITY & MELLOW: OPEN-WATER SWIMMING
Calum Lawson, Manager, SMWS Glasgow
As you swim out in the open water of Loch Lomond it feels as deep as the mountains are high. You pass the islands that inspired the names of distillery 112 and 135 and you can’t help but dream of a well-earned dram on your return to the shore, with all the depth of the flavour and character inspired by this beautiful place.
SPICY & SWEET: SKYDIVING
Joe McGirr, Founder, The Boatyard Distillery
My history in skydiving began in 2006, a few years after I had started with SMWS. We were visiting Tullibardine distillery in the Highlands and discovered Strathallan dropzone in Auchterarder. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to jump from bridges, balloons and many planes – with a Society dram the perfect way to celebrate a safe landing!
SPICY & DRY: SKIING
Markku Elo, SMWS member, @whiskyfinland
I’m quite obsessed with nature and being outdoors, with skiing, hiking and fly-fishing my particular passions. Is there anything better than being out there, listening to the sounds of nature, and enjoying a lovely dram of whisky? Moments like this make any dram even better, with natural ingredients at their best. Don’t hesitate to hit the outdoors, grab a dram and just enjoy.
DEEP, RICH & DRIED FRUITS: CUILLIN SCRAMBLING
Richard Goslan, Unfiltered editor
Scotland isn’t just blessed with the finest drink in the world…it’s also home to some of the most amazing mountains. They don’t come any more challenging or exhilarating than the Cuillins on Skye, a monstrous ridge of jagged peaks. Pick your route carefully, and celebrate your ascent with a Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits flavour profile dram – a suitably decadent and powerful tipple for the top of the (Scottish) world.
OLD & DIGNIFIED: ORDINANCE SURVEY TRIG POINT TREKKING
Jack Low, SMWS international team
I love a good walk. You can rely on the SMWS to deliver a tasty dram, but you can’t always rely on GPS in the hills. This April marks the 85th anniversary of the first OS Trig Pillar being installed and I love finding these old relics of cartography on my adventures with my hip flask. They’re portals to the past, each with a unique serial number, just like our whiskies!
LIGHT & DELICATE: ROWING
Summer Austin, Ambassador, SMWS Glasgow
There’s not much that can motivate someone to venture into the brisk camhanaich* repeatedly, but rowing can. The crisp air, the subtle splash of the blade entering the water, the harmonised shunt of the oars, the synchronicity of a body and a team in motion. Whisky and rowing also share many similarities: both are sensory experiences, heightened by the scenery, relying on teamwork and finding that perfect balance.
*Gaelic for ‘the half-light of dawn’
JUICY, OAK & VANILLA: SPEYSIDE CANOEING
Dr Andy Forrester, SMWS Spirits Educator
Some years ago, I joined Dave Craig from Spirit of the Spey on a paddling trip down the River Spey. Five days on the river, from Aviemore to Spey Bay, offers a unique perspective on the Scotch whisky landscape and its distilleries. A dram from distillery 37, sampled outside its place of origin, was a highlight. For me, whisky always tastes better outdoors, whether on the banks of the Spey or halfway down a glacier in the French Alps.
OILY & COASTAL: WILD SWIMMING
Annabel Meikle, Director, Keepers of the Quaich
In January I raised funds for Maggie’s Edinburgh by taking 50 swims in the month. I swam in the morning so a dram afterwards wasn’t an option, but it really set me up for the day. I’m looking forward to taking my VW campervan around Scotland to swim and camp and will certainly enjoy a dram post-evening dip. Drams from a hip flask are always the best!
LIGHTLY PEATED: FLY FISHING
Francesco Ramella, Ambassador, SMWS Queen Street
I always bring my hip flask with me when I go fishing. Probably the best moment of the day is when I sit on the bank watching the sunset and sipping some whisky. I think it’s a celebration of the two! Our blends perform well in a hip flask, you still have all the flavour that you are looking for and they’re easier to drink without water on the side.
PEATED: MOUNTAIN BIKING
Kai Ivalo, SMWS Spirits Director
Some years ago while I was planning to go out for an evening mountain bike ride with friends I decided to take my hip flask. We had a break to regroup and get ready for the descent and all took a swig (just the one) in turn and everyone remarked on what a big and intensely flavourful dram it was. It had never stood out as big and full flavoured previously, so our earlier exertions had clearly had an effect! Since then I have enjoyed the occasional carefully selected alfresco sip and ensured that if it is a Society whisky it’s not at full strength!
HEAVILY PEATED: WILD CAMPING
Mads Schmoll, SMWS Social media guru
There’s something to be said for having moments where you feel like you’re the only human for miles around. For me that’s being in a kayak in the middle of a loch watching the sun come up. Sometimes it’s staring up at the stars from a campfire with a contemplative dram. Being outside amplifies my senses in a way that makes me feel truly alive. I never take the same whisky with me, so each experience with that dram is as unique as the environment itself!
This article features in the January 2023 Outturn — bottles will be available to purchase on Friday the 6th of January at midday AEDT exclusively to members of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Not a member? Click here to learn more about the world’s most colourful whisky club.