Whiskey whets way for Highland Games

By: By Nolan Gilmour - ngilmour@laurinburgexchange.con

LAURINBURG — Scotch enthusiasts from near and far will gather at The Storytelling Arts Center for the annual Scotland County Highland Games Whiskey Tasting Seminar today.

Starting at 3 p.m. at 131 South Main Street, the tasting, which organizers describe as one of the most popular events of the festival, will kick off the weekend of Scottish heritage.

The event serves as a prelude to the weekend’s Highland Games at the North Carolina Rural Heritage Center in Laurinburg. Games will feature Scottish Clan and Society tents, food and merchandise vendors, athletic competitions, Scottish musical and dance entertainment, sheep dog demonstrations. Advanced ticket sales are $12 for adults, $3 for children ($15 and $5 at the door) and may be purchased online at www.games-tickets.com.

Taste of Scotland

This year’s hosts for the tasting are Noran Sanford and Alan Livingston of Scotland County.

“I am excited to welcome Alan Livingston as a co-host and welcome a larger number to our fellowship,” Sanford said. “This year, we tried to balance price point with single malts that folks might not be familiar with,” Sanford said.

The whiskey tasting will feature an offering of two whiskies from the east of Scotland, two from the west, and a “compromise” of a fine blended whiskey.

Featured Whiskeys:

Glenmorangie 10-year-old The Original — a highland whiskey from northeastern Scotland, just north of Inverness. A classic malt, creamy and fruity, which pairs well with scallops.

The Macallan 12-year-old — a Speyside whiskey, aged in sherry casks, that pairs well with tuna tartar.

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2014 — produced at the artisan farm distillery Kilchoman on Islay, with vatting of 5 and 6-year-old ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso Sherry butts. This whiskey pairs well with smoked cheese.

Bruichladdich Scottish Barley Classic Laddie — also from Islay, matured in American oak casks, and chosen to represent the classic, unpeated distillery style, made with 100 percent Scottish barley. This Scotch pairs well with Jenk’s shortbread.

Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 year Blended Scotch — this variety is a blended malt, meaning it is made just from single-malts with no grain whiskey added. Green Label uses predominantly four malts “drawn from the four corners of Scotland.” Each of the malts, Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore, and Caol Ila, were selected by the blender for balance, with each malt whisky matured for a minimum of 15 years. This blended whiskey pairs well with smoked salmon.

Additionally, this year’s tasting will again feature a raffle for a rare Scotch whiskey.

This year’s bottle is a 1978 Port Allen – 2nd Release – with cask strength and number. A look online shows only a handful of bottles on sale in England and one bottle in Hong Kong—- all costing well into four-figures.

Raffle tickets are $10 apiece and may be purchased online at www.whisky-raffle.com.

“Each year we struggled with making spaces available for people coming in from out of town. Whiskey tasting is such a popular event that tickets were bought out by our local community,” Sanford said, who explained this year organizers have expanded the tasting to accommodate more people.

Limited tickets are still available for $40. To purchase one of the few remaining tickets, call 910-384-3924 before 2 p.m. today.

Proceeds will go to the Highland Games.

Tasting to kick off weekend of Scottish heritage

By Nolan Gilmour


Below is the full schedule of events for the 2017 Highland Games:

Friday, Oct. 6

3 p.m. — Whiskey Tasting and Gathering at the Storytelling Arts Center, 131 S. Main St.

6 to 8 p.m. — Sponsors and Clans Reception at St. Andrews William Henry Belk Student Center

Saturday, Oct. 7

John Blue House, 13040 X-Way Rd.

8 a.m. — Field opens to the public

8:30 a.m. — Competitions begin in Solo Piping, Drumming, Highland Dance, and Scottish Athletic Events

10:30 a.m. — Sheep dog Demonstration

11 a.m. — Opening Ceremony featuring Massed Pipe Bands and the Parade of Tartans

Noon — Celtic Entertainment stage performances resume

9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — Scottish Games and activities

The day’s events include:

— Games for children ages 12 and under

— Scottish Harpe competition and demonstrations

— Best Celtic and Celtic-inspirted American music at the entertainment stage

— Find your clan and Scottish roots at the history tent

1:30 p.m. — Pipe Band Competition begins (North side of the field near the cabins)

1:30 p.m. — Sheep dog Demonstration

4 p.m. — Entertainment Stage closes

5 p.m. — (approximate) Closing ceremonies and awards presentations at the entertainment stage

8 p.m. — Piping concert featuring Gold Medalist Dr. Angus MacDonald from Braes, Portee inside the Skye Morris Morgan Theatre at St. Andrews University

Sunday, Oct. 8

Historic Old Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church, 15301 McFarland Rd. in Laurinburg

11 a.m. — Kirkin’ of the Tartans Worship Service

Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171

Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171