LAURINBURG — The fifth annual Scotland County Highland Games Whisky Tasting and Gathering featured crowd favorites from years past and a sense of new tradition.
For the more than 90 single malt Scotch whisky connoisseurs in attendance of Friday’s tasting, the afternoon began with the smooth Balvenie, a lighter scotch and ended with the strong and smokey flavor of the Ardbeg Corryvreckan. The event serves as a prelude to the weekend’s Highland Games.
“We crown this the most recent tradition of the Scotland County Highland Games,” said Noren Sanford, co-host of the whiskey tasting. “I am a believer in traditions and this whiskey seminar is a great tradition.”
The afternoon was not only about scotch, it served as a gathering for people all over the state to partake in a Scotland County history, as well as share stories of Scottish heritage.
The musician Colin Grant-Adams, from Oban, Scotland was one of the entertainers Friday, by playing songs of the guitar and also sharing Scottish stories.
Adams explained why there was a wheel barrel next to the stage. “When you’ve had a bit to drink, there is always someone who needs a ride home — that’s what the wheel barrel is for.”
Among the stories told, their was a connection between the people of Scotland and the people of the Southeastern United States.
“We learned our southern hospitality from our Scottish friends,” said Guy McCook, Scotland County Commissioner, who has been apart of the Oban Exchange with his children through Scotland High School.
After trips to Scotland through the Oban exchange, William S. McIlwain, co-host of the whiskey tasting, explained the heaven on earth, which is the Isle of Islay, Scotland, where many single malt whiskey distilleries are located, including his favorite and the last scotch tasted at the event, Ardbeg Corryvreckan.
The five single malt whiskies tried included the Balvenie 12 year old Double Wood, Lagavulin 16 year old, Talisker Storm, Ardbeg Corryvreckan and the Jura The Origin 10 year old.
“Overall the tasting was a great experience because of the small size with no distractions, good storytelling, which both paired well to set the mood, said Brian Barker of Fayetteville, who enjoyed his first time attending the tasting. “They did a really fine job and I am looking forward to what they do next year.”
Each scotch was also paired with a different food, the Balvenia was paired with pumpkin pie, Jura with Scottish short bread, Lagavuin with Scottish sheep blue cheese, Talisker Storm with smoked beef brisket and Ardbeg Corryvreckan with salmon.
“The Scotland County Highland Games are the largest tourism event offered in the county — or surrounding counties for that matter,” said Bill Caudill, SCHG director. “How many other events fill every hotel in Scotland County?”
“A lot of people here at the whiskey tasting came here early just for this, which is bringing in customers at the hotels,” Caudill said. “I met some visitors today from New Hampshire.”
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171