LAURINBURG — The 10th annual Scotland County Highland Games unofficially kicked off Friday afternoon with the sixth annual Whisky Tasting event at the Storytelling Arts Center in downtown Laurinburg.
“This event has grown every year — from about 27 the first year to more than 70 today,” said Noran Sanford, one of the emcees for the event. “It’s become a pretty popular event.”
In fact, the number on Friday topped 80 — and some came from a pretty good distance, including Winston-Salem, Florence, South Carolina, and Glasgow, Kentucky.
The tasters were given a total of five different whiskys — notice that Scottish whisky does not have the “e” as the word does in Canada and the U.S. — four coming directly from Scotland and one from Waco, Texas.
“Those four originate from different regions of Scotland,” said Alan Livingston, the other emcee. “Each are very distinct in their taste — from the smoky, pungent taste of Islay to a lighter and smoother taste from Glenmorangie.”
Each of the whiskys were paired with a different type of food: Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or with dark chocolate; Balvenie Caribbean Cask with plums; Baclones 1 Texas Single Malt with blue cheese; Tomatain Highland Single Malt with Jack’s shortbread; and Laphoaig Triple Wood Cask Matured with smoked salmon.
Along with the whisky tasting, participants were greeted with plenty of fellowship, Scottish history and Scottish humor — some rough enough to create the need for earplugs.
“Whisky, the public and Scottish humor … my goodness,” Sanford said.
Not everyone attending Friday’s event was a returnee. Mike and Jennifer Lindel of Winston-Salem were enjoying their first-ever Whisky Tasting.
“Our family talked us into coming,” said Jennifer, who is originally from Laurinburg. “And this is such a great turnout.”
The couple also enjoyed the whisky.
“That first one was excellent,” said Mike, who just returned from a week in Scotland. Jennifer is hoping to make her first trip there soon.
“I spent some time in Oban (the sister city) and had quite a bit of the Scottish whisky,” he added. “I was able to taste it right there where it’s made. I think we both have a much better appreciation for the whisky now.”
Also during the event, a 1978 bottle of Ard Beg whisky valued at $1,400 was being raffled off.
The sponsor of the Whisky Tasting event this year the King Fisher Society.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-506-3023 or [email protected]