March 2006. I had been living in Edinburgh for about a year when Christian came over from Vermont for a visit. He came bearing pickles, as requested, because in Scotland a “pickle” is some form of chutney, and gherkins are just ridiculous.
After a few days of exploring the city and filling up on kebabs and haggis, we rented an impossibly awkward Vauxhall Agila and set off on a journey through the Highlands.
Our first stop was the Edradour Distillery, Scotland’s smallest, where we learned the intricacies of chillfiltering and why it’s often nice to look for un-chillfiltered whiskies. From there we set off north past the Cairngorms towards Grantown on Spey and Dufftown, disappointed along the way by Cragganmore being closed. By the time we reached Glenfiddich we were losing daylight and gaining snow, and they were about to close up for the day. Thankfully the tour guide took pity and we were treated to a thorough, personal tour of the distillery, just the two of us.
Somewhere around Elgin we encountered black ice, which stayed with us all the dark way to Inverness. The little Agila took it well, but I was knackered by the time we found a place to stay. Finding a place to eat was even more of a chore, as it seems Inverness rolls up the pavements at dusk!