Scotland through the eyes of an artist is a many layered series of discoveries. It’s stunning castles, mystical landscape, secret glens and tucked within gems like its reclusive distilleries. It’s a land undisturbed by time and untouched by greed. Pour a glass of Scotch and all the treasures of the world are in your hands. What more does one need?
Scotland’s been on my bucket list forever. But this is the thing: it has to call you! I’ve been to London and Ireland, but the land of lochs and country has always been elusive. Till this series ‘Spirit of Scotland’ comes along, out of the blue. And finally, the jinx is broken.
From its un-clamoured cliffs, mountains, peat shores, dark sea lochs, moors and fields of gold sheaves of barley. It is here where the heritage and culture of the old truly continues and flourishes, alongside modern life. A classic example of unwavering customs holding sway are the Scottish Bagpipes. Soaked in legends and heroic deeds, you see and hear them at weddings, christening so, parties, Royal, heraldic events, funerals, commemorations, everywhere possible. Much like the ubiquitous Kilts and sporrans. Both symbols of clan and country to which I would add that water of waters: whisky!
But what intrigues me is how the notes in the layers of these waters of life change with region, the glen and its very spring waters; how their souls coaxed out by the nose of their master distillers and master blenders, adding nuances to these whiskies. At the heart of them all is Scotland, but no two are alike. How magical is that! As a whisky enthusiast, I tried to grasp the complexities within my dram. During the shoot, these were answered by some of the finest whisky connoisseurs and creators at distilleries that are home and hallowed ground for some of the worlds most revered brands: The Glenlivet, Aberlour, Ballantine’s, Chivas Regal and The Royal Salute. Often referred to as ‘the toast of Speyside’.
Which then brings to mind that what holds all of it together in a harmony of elements is ‘the people of Scotland’. For the Scots, it’s whiskies are a way of keeping their traditions alive. This intense desire to hold on to their own is what fires their creativity. Scotland’s relationship to its whiskies are about identity and a cultural ethos. It is rooted in the land: the elements, its produce and its way of life. A sense of conviviality that is about community and camaraderie without borders. Perhaps this explained why great whisky, great food and good company are inseparable.
Over the length of this Series, I discovered how Scotch – single malts and blended, has the potential to unlock and reveal unique characters and traits. From the Sean Connery of whiskies – The Glenlivet 18 YO, to why Ballantine’s 17YO should grace any bar. I also learnt how versatile whiskies are by pairing them with some of the most exciting cuisines in the world- For instance, Aberlour is double cask matured, has a velvety texture with a rich fruity flavour, perfect for pairing with a Haggis or even rich chocolate tarte. Scotch and sea food is another amazing combination – Chivas can taste heavenly when paired with fresh smoked salmon. Finding myself in the depths of the Royal Salute vaults, I was particularly fascinated by tasting directly from the royal casks, one that was still waiting for the next monarch.
Come, take your palate by surprise as the palette of Scotland’s mystical, mythical landscape leaves the senses stunned.
By: Kunal Kapoor, actor