Happiness is a Scotch distilleries tour - part 2

Continued from last Thursday:

Yes, we managed to tour all nine distilleries, sampling generous amounts of private whiskies not available for sale. We also were treated royally to exquisite lunches with wines and cognacs, always served with a variety of cheeses. In truth, at the end of each day neither Ken MacAlpine nor I were interested in dinner. In fact, I don't remember eating dinner for the entire tour.

At the end of our final day we crashed until early next morning, when Ken rousted me for a tour of his beloved Scottish north country. He wanted to show me a Haggis.

What's a Haggis?

According to him it was the ugliest, most ferocious beast on the face of the earth, rarely seen by man, but the meat was supposedly scrumptious. This had all the dejà vu of my Boy Scout snipe hunting trip where I ended up holding the bag until 2 a.m. But I went along for the ride ...

Whilst driving aimlessly we bumped into a small cemetery when Ken excitedly exclaimed, "Let's stop and pay tribute to Rob Roy, Scotland's famous Robin Hood and patriot. His tomb is right here!"

Now, I could sense Ken becoming a bit sentimental. A traditional, unpredictably emotional Scotsman was beginning to surface. We left the car and eased our way up a hill and sure enough, we soon found ourselves standing on Rob Roy's tomb slab. It was fairly well preserved, considering Scottish weather. There were two others paying their respects.

Tears were now running down Ken's cheeks. He began reciting all of Rob Roy's virtues as a patriot, and the more he spoke the more emotional he became. Finally, he looked at me, dead serious, and said: "This cannot be honorably concluded without drinking a toast to this great man."

And I said, "But Ken, we have nothing with which to toast."

And he said, "Let's get in the car and find a purveyor of proper beverages and return to fulfill our obligation."

So we somehow found our car (we were still hung over from the tour), put it on autopilot, drove around and around until we found a licensed liquor establishment, forthwith purchasing a quart of good Scotch, some sweet and dry Vermouth, bitters, plastic glasses, a cocktail shaker, a lemon and ice ... yes, ice. We then loaded Ken's car and proceeded, determined to find Rob Roy's tomb once again.

We did, and we unloaded the car and hiked back up the hill. Upon arriving, we carefully laid everything out and began making Rob Roy cocktails, also including the other two grief stricken mourners. With each toast, Ken made a little speech, seemingly appreciated by our "guests." When we had depleted our supply of elixir and all were feeling mellow, we decided to move on, this time in search of a dreaded Haggis.

Let the Guinness Book of Records show that I am believed to be the only Carsonite to drink Rob Roy cocktails whilst standing on Rob Roy!

We drove further north, finally leaving the car to walk in those beautiful meadows, seeing several deer and an assortment of other wildlife. The weather was remarkably good. We were feeling no pain and Ken finally began to fade. Being late in the day we decided to return to our hotel and have some dinner.

Did we bump into a Haggis? No, thank God! It would have been a lose-lose encounter with the Haggis devouring us, and immediately dying of alcohol poisoning ... We had a farewell dinner, retiring early. Next morning I had to be at Prestwick Airport early to grab a flight to New York.

How was the flight? Don't ask me. The airplane didn't crash, but I did. The events of the past week had finally taken their toll. Upon landing, I managed to find and get to the TWA terminal just in time to board the "noon saloon" to Los Angeles.

Had I been invited, would I have done it again? Heavens yes!

It was a fabulous experience full of super memories.

• Bob Thomas is a retired high-tech industrialist who later served on the Carson City School Board, the state welfare board, the airport authority and as a state assemblyman. His website is www.worldclassentrepreneur.com.


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