The Ghost of Roderick Dhu and a new Pointless Project

After joking about it in the 2013 Review Thingo, I’ve decided to make 52 Whiskys In 52 Weeks my new Pointless* Project. It’s just the logical thing to do…

Gareth in the wash room

  • Geography – Living in Inverness I’m surrounded by Highland distilleries. The famous delights of Speyside are a short drive away. Orkney and Skye are mere weekend trips now. It would be rude not to explore!
  • Cheap thrills – I don’t plan on buying bottles of the stuff so I’ll need to be crafty. Distillery visits = free tastings, sometimes even multiple ones. There’s local whisky shops and whisky events. Gareth has a modest collection that I can exploit. If I get desperate towards the end, there’s always miniatures.
  • Glamorous moments – I’ve budgeted in a monthly bar visit. At Christmas a client took us to the swanky Caley Bar at Edinburgh’s Caledonian Hilton. I said to a colleague, “Wouldn’t it be great to be the kind of person who hangs out in these places on a regular basis?”. Later I thought, what are you waiting for, woman? I’m not getting any younger so I’m scheduling in decadence, dagnabbit. Every now and then I’ll get dressed up and go somewhere fancy for one drink. At my slowass rate of consumption I can make a dram last for hours. Gareth, you can come too but you may need to upgrade your hoodie.
  • Sensory workout – I like the infuriating challenge of figuring out what’s going on when tasting whisky. So far it’s very much like the Perfume Project… “I know that smell… what the bloody hell is it?”. Wonder if I’ll get any better at it over the year?
  • It’s fascinating stuff – the history, the unpronounceable names, the mystery & myth; the marketing BS… it’s intriguing and I want to learn more.
  • Marital harmony – Gareth developed an unexpected interest in whisky during his MA Brewing & Distilling course (he had come for the beer). So it’s fun having something we’re both interested in. Try as I may, I can’t get jazzed about homebrewing or mountain biking!

The rules

  • The whiskys must be single malt Scotch whisky. No blends or foreign stuff.
  • Just to assure you that I won’t develop a problem – I don’t have to drink a whole dram for it to qualify as Tasted. A sip or two is all I need to make a verdict.
  • Tasting notes to be entered into swanky new spreadsheet (surprise, surprise)
  • Champion whisky to be declared on 31 December 2014. So none of this “winding up the project a year after the deadline” malarkey this time.

The story so far

I’ve tried a Lagavuillin 16yo and a Clynelish 14yo from Gareth’s stash. His parents got us Historic Scotland memberships for Christmas (free entry into all HS properties) so this past weekend we went to Dallas Dhu historic distillery near Forres, which promised a free dram at the end of the audio tour.

Dallas Dhu distillery

The distillery closed down in the eighties but it’s well-preserved Victorian goodness is open as a museum. There were shades of Scotland’s Secret Bunker with the creepy mannequins dotted about…

Creepy mannequins

… and the free dram was a blend, derr. We should’ve thought of that; they’re hardly going to give tourists a splosh of their ye olde single malt which now goes for hundreds of quid per bottle.

Roderick Dhu dram

But it was all totally worth it for the audio visual extravaganza at the end. While sipping your dram you get to watch a history of whisky as told by the ghost of Roderick Dhu. With stunning 1980s special effects, he pops out of the bottle like a boozy genie to impart his wisdom. Once you’ve got the lowdown he whizzes back down into the bottle bearing his name and beardy visage. If you’re ever in Scotland and want a side of cheese with your whisky touring, be sure to add Dallas Dhu to your itinerary!

Rhoderick Dhu

* Pointless = as in having no point, i.e. for the pure fun of it and not being about work and serious stuff.

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

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36 thoughts on “The Ghost of Roderick Dhu and a new Pointless Project

  1. This is BRILLIANT! I love what you said about not waiting anymore and just scheduling your decadence! Tasting whiskeys sounds like a wonderful project for the year! Not pointless at all!

  2. I am amazed that you are confident there are 52 accessible single malt scotches to be had! I suppose its like beers around these parts. Three cheers for marital harmony and three more for fancy bars. Have you taken a look at the ‘101 whiskies to try before you die’ book (by Ian Buxton)? I don’t love whiskey but I do love how he writes about whiskey.

  3. Oh, oh, oh, so excited for this!!!!!
    Can’t wait to hear about your adventures!!!
    Still got that trip a-whisky-tasting around Islay on my bucket list. Slainte!!

  4. My brother is quite a fan of Maker’s Mark bourbon whiskey from Kentucky, but it’s “foreign” (to you) so I guess it doesn’t qualify. He joined their Ambassador club and got to have his name stamped on one of the barrels. Then he got an update a few years later when it was ready and he got to go have a sip of it.

  5. Always a pleasure to see your posts.
    And tasting whisk(e)y is a very good thing to aim for.
    I am a wine person, myself. And I would have no trouble going for 52 tastings….
    cilla xx

  6. Good to see you building on our collective hard work from November … it was tough alright, but that whisky wasn’t going to drink itself. I bought Russell a bottle of Glenmorangie Ealanta for Christmas (that whisky which was named Whisky of the year or some such by Jim Murray the week we were up there visiting). Lovely stuff!

  7. Ooooh yeah. Do you know, I went to this whiskey bar in St Moritz.

    MMMhmmm.. In my semi-inebriated state I accidentally ticked the 1000Euro whiskey as my next shot. Luckily someone corrected that before the flash whiskey waiter trundled off.

    I will be in the UK briefly, about 15-22 October (fly out of Heathrow 22nd), but in the South. I’m going through a King Arthur phase and want to see Glastonbury etc etc. So, I know you’re waayyyy up the other end of things, but ……

    1. Hee hee 🙂

      I think that week may be when the Mothership is visiting, but will see how things pan out! Sounds like a tops trip 🙂

  8. Now this one is for me. I’m intrigued by the range of words used to describe tasting experiences. A while ago I saw a fantastic box of little smell vials used for olfactory training with specific smells in each bottle (it was an obsessives coffee shop) – and I wanted one! I know you are only tasting local, but when I was in Tasmania there was quite a lot of publicity about the awards the Tasmanian’s are starting to win for their whiskey. Perhaps a tour of the apple Isle will be in order on your next trip? You’ve also reminded me that one of my favourite pubs has a whiskey bar, so I will join you at some stage. Taste away!

    1. That is fascinating stuff Anne, I would like to do some olfactory training somehow.

      I would love to go to Tassie! Still need to get to Adelaide, too 🙂

  9. I am right now just trying not to laugh at the thought of all the foreign people trying to figure out how to pronounce all the whiskies. 🙂 Heck, I’m Scottish and I have difficulty enough pronouncing some of my Dad’s favourites…

    Good luck with it!

  10. Here is another book you and Gareth might enjoy…A history of the world in six glasses. looking forward to hearing about your experiences.

  11. Why do we do that? Put nice things on the back burner waiting for “the right time” or a special occasion? I am with you! Let’s just do it now!

  12. I love these pointless projects! It is such a fun idea. I am not a fan of whisky (except when I’m pregnant, when for some reason it SMELLS really good to me, so I take a quick sniff if someone else is drinking it) but my husband loves it so I’ve been learning a bit in order to refine my gift buying strategy (which is usually to call my friend Chris from the whisky section at the alcohol store and beg him to tell me which one to buy).

  13. Shauna – excellent project , and why stop at 52 ? Got super excited about this ( after reading yuor wonderful prose ) and then carried away, so forgive my contrived link, but you could marry your twin interests further by taking part in or encouraging others to take part in the Glenlivet 10k, have been reliably informed that the running goody bag includes a dram of Glenlivet.
    Contemplating it myself if I can fit it in .

  14. One word….Dalmore 40yo.

    Best whisky I’ve ever had. A bottle is about £1400 so the two shots Tom and I had were worth about £50 I’d say 😉 five years on I still think about it.

    I can imagine their younger ones are wonderful too.

  15. Such fun, good idea and great that you were struck with the idea of not waiting for later. We do all do that and you’re so right to just jump in. We’ll all enjoy the ride reading about it too. Your posts are always so fun to read 🙂

  16. Such a good idea, I recommend Islay. I´ve never been there, but I love the complex taste of the native malts. The first sip usually hurts , but the second is an explosion of flavours. So don´t stop at the first sip 😉

  17. Great idea, and so much better than ‘a beer a day for a year’. The whiskeys don’t have to be from Scotland do they?

    I’d be interested to see what you think of the Tassie whiskey: Lark Distillery. It *is* a single malt, and possibly the one that Anne referred to as well.

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