Posts

World Porridge Making Championships took place this weekend in Carrbridge.  It was the 24th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship, which happens each year in the Scottish Highland village of Carrbridge since 1996.  Competitors from across the globe came to fight for the coveted Golden Spurtle trophy and World Porridge Making Champion title.

Ellinor Carsson and Per Carlsson 2017’s World Porridge Making Champions, photo courtesy of James Ross

Congratulations go to Sweden’s Ellinor Persson who took the coveted title of World Porridge Making Champion, with Per Carlsson taking the Speciality title. The 23-strong international line up included competitors from the USA, Russia, Switzerland, Holland, Iceland, Sweden and across the UK and Ireland.

The title of World Porridge Making Champion is awarded to the competitor who makes the best traditional porridge using only three ingredients – oatmeal, salt and water. The porridges are judged on three factors – consistency, taste and colour. 

The Speciality title is awarded for a dish comprising mainly of oats but can be sweet or savoury.  From the simple traditional recipe of oats, water and salt, this competition celebrates the diversity of porridge.  Previous winners have included Sticky Toffee Porridge, Fruity Date Porridge and Pinhead Risotto with Lemon and Thyme and Parmesan.   This simple set of natural and healthy ingredients can be transformed into hearty, flavoursome meals.

Health

Plain porridge oats and oatmeal are 100% natural with no added sugar, salt or additives.  They are naturally low in calories too – an average bowl of porridge made with water is said to be only 171 calories.  Health experts have shown that oats have many health benefits.  Oats have a high content of complex carbohydrates and soluble fibre so they release energy slowly. A bowl of porridge for breakfast should provide the body with all the energy the body needs until lunch time.

World Porridge Making Championship 25th Anniversary

The Golden Spurtle trophy comes from the traditional wooden spurtle that is used to stir porridge.  Ready to test your porridge making skills?  There’s plenty of time to hone your skills to be ready for next year’s competition, when the village of Carrbridge will be pulling out the stops for the 25th anniversary.  Entry details can be found at www.goldenspurtle.com.

 

How to drink whisky

Do you need advice on the best way to appreciate whisky?  Have you always thought it looks like a good idea but you are confused about the dos and don’ts of whisky-drinking.  Here’s a fascinating article to help you.  It reminds us all that, as with most things in life, it’s not about etiquette or snobbishness,  it’s all about your personal preference.  5 Myth-Busting Ways to Improve Your Whisky Drinking

It’s not surprising that it’s confusing, with hundreds of different malts distilled in Scotland alone.  The industry is currently booming with exports increasing throughout the world.  Along with our cashmere, tweed, fishing and farming produce, you can appreciate  the fruits of our labours thoughout the world.

You can find out a great deal about the industry visiting the many distilleries in Scotland.  Even the smallest are aware of the interest by tourists and most have organised tours of their facilities and the all important tasting session at the end of the visit.   You don’t have to go too far to find the Malt Whisky Trail, with its concentration of 7 distilleries in a few square miles and includes the Speyside Cooperage where they make the barrels for storage.

With so many whiskys to choose you could spend a lifetime finding the one that suits you best, but think what fun you would have trying and testing! Picture yourself in front of a roaring fire, relaxed on a comfortable sofa, nursing a glass of single malt in a heavy crystal glass.  Imagine you are in an advert with David Beckham, being directed by Guy Ritchie.  If this doesn’t convert you to the glamour and coolness of the refined act of whisky drinking, nothing will.  And remember point number 5 in the myth-busting article – Leave a whisky bottle open for too long and it loses its flavour.

a_wee_dram_inverness

Have a wee dram

 

 

 

Highland Whisky Distilleries – just a glimpse of the vast whisky heritage in Scotland.

a_wee_dram_inverness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe because it is the largest geographical area, the Highlands is the hardest Whisky region to pin down stylistically. For this reason it is easiest not to consider the Highlands as one large are, but as 4 smaller and much more distinct ones.

North-Highland malts tend to be light bodied, delicate whiskies with complex aromas and a dryish finish sometimes spicy, sometimes with a trace of salt. Northern Highland distilleries are almost all coastal. The most northerly is Old Pulteney, situated about as far north as you can go in Wick, which produces a delicious, fragrant, dry whisky.

Working south along the route of the A9, next comes Clynelish at Brora (built in 1969, beside an earlier distillery who’s whiskies are known as Brora) – a sophisticated and complex whisky older expressions are very highly regarded and the malt deserves to be better known. Perhaps the reason that it is rarely seen as a distillery bottling is that it’s malt is a key component of Johnnie Walker.

The best known of all the Northern Highland malts is Glenmorangie. Glenmorangie, is made at Tain on the Cromarty Firth, and is the most popular malt in Scotland. Over the last decade Glenmorangie pioneered the now often copied process of wood finishing. Althoght this process is not universally popular;  it transformed the company’s commercial success.

The Eastern Highlands produce a number of whiskies that can be confused with those of Speyside.  In the north of the region close to the southern border of Speyside, whiskies which are smooth, sometimes with a little smoke, malty-sweet, such as Macduff, Ardmore, Glen Garioch and Knockdhu are made.

Further south is Fettercairn, and Glencadam, at Brechin, which produces an unusual creamy, fruity malt. The area between the Moray and the Tay has two distilleries of note;Royal Lochnagar and Glendronach. The first is a wonderfully smooth, rich whisky made in the shadow of the mountain of the same name in a distillery established in 1825 The second is also luscious and often sherried.

In the Western Highlands there only two distilleries on the mainland those of Oban and Ben Nevis. Oban is a perfect, sheltered harbour makes it the principal seaport for the Isles and the capital of the West Highlands. Its whisky has a misty, briny character, with a background of heather and peat.

The Oban whisky stills used are among the smallest in Scotland; the cramped nature of the site is attested to by the odd position of the worm tubs, fed by unusually short lyne arms, and nestled in the ‘vee’ between the roofs of the still house and an adjoining building.

The whiskies of the Central Highlands are a mixed bag. Generally they are lighter-bodied and sweeter that their cousins to the east, but not as sweet as Speysides.

The Central Highland single malts used to be known as ‘Perthshire Whiskies’. Most are found along the valleys of the Tay and its tributaries.  The furthest north is Dalwhinnie, which is almost in Speyside indeed; it is at the very head of the river, over sixty miles from Grantown-on-Spey.

Blair Athol and Edradour whisky distilleries are both near Pitlochrie. The former was founded in the 1790s and was substantially rebuilt in 1949 Edradour is the smallest distillery in Scotland – a happy survivor of the days of ‘farm distilleries’ – yet produces a clean, fresh, attractive and justly popular whisky.

South again is Aberfeldy distillery, on the edge of the pretty town of the same name. Glenturret, at Crieff is one of the claimants to being the oldest distillery, although it was dismantled in the 1920s and is much changed.

And if you are visiting the Highlands, please consider my Bed and Breakfast, Bannerman Bed and Breakfast.