Whisky tasting in Teuchters Landing

Teuchter – a Lowland Scots word used mainly for Northern, Highland Scots, or Doric speaking Scots, although sometimes to any rural Scots by urban Scots (…). Like most such cultural epithets, it is often offensive, but is sometimes seen as amusing by the speaker. The term is often taken to mean “ignorant northerner”. (Wikipedia)

Port of Leith, just outside Teuchters Landing

I’m on a bus number 35. Chris jumps in on Fountain Bridge. A quick handshake and the moan starts.

- What were you up to today man?

- Christmas shopping – I admit and sink further into my seat – you?

- Same.

Grim silence covers the bus for a wee while. Is there a single thing in the world even remotely as exhausting as shopping? I really can’t think of anything.

- I almost wanted to give our tasting a miss tonight, Chris. I’m just so tired.

- That’s blasphemy mate. But I totally felt the same.

Inevitably the conversation goes on to football for a few minutes and behind the bus window the city of Edinburgh unveils. Tollcross, Forrest Road, National Museum, Edinburgh University, Royal Mile, Scottish Parliament, Holyrood Palace… for a second I catch a glimpse of the crown jewel – beautifully lit Edinburgh Castle. Chris suddenly boosts my mood:

- Relax man, we’ll taste some nice whiskies.

- I suppose.

- It’s tough job man but someone’s got to do it!

Really couldn’t stop laughing there. Whisky tasting a tough job? Aye, right. Whatever you say.

Chris started going on about Glenfiddich 21 Caribbean rum cask finish. The word ‘Cuban’ was substituted by ‘Caribbean’ on the label of this malt long time ago. Wandering if politicians will erase Cuba from our dictionaries too?

We had Teuchters’ full whisky list in advance so we could structure our tasting a little bit. But on the bus we still weren’t quite sure what to do.

We arrived and met up with our host for the night, Joe. We went inside and there was the first positive surprise – a fireplace. Since it was absolutely Baltic outside we strategically chose a table right next to it. Teuchters Landing – 1, cold Edinburgh weather – 0!

The bar is rather small and outrageously cosy. Romantic lighting, leather furnishings and an oak finish. Like it. Shame about the location, it’s a bit off the beaten track. For me it’s 30min on the bus but still worth the travel. Not the least for their whisky selection. A good few malts they’ve got there on a blackboard. We had to climb to our tiptoes and squint to read it though, it’s hung just below the ceiling.It's tough job

- Their whisky selection is up there – I said. Boys didn’t laugh at this superb joke, no sense of humour or simply no intelligence?

Since it was our first tasting we really wanted to hit it from the right angle. We wanted it to be big and tasty. And of course we needed it to make structural sense. The answer came to us suddenly.

- Let’s go for mature malts, aged between 15 and 20. Loads of flavour to write about and a nice treat for ourselves.

- Between 15 and 20? But what about Glenfiddich 21? I thought you wanted to try it! – Chris seemed truly disappointed.

- Ok, make it 16 to 21.

After further debate we agreed on the following four malts (click on any of them to go to the post where we argue about it!).

It took us no less than an hour to deal with this tidy set. I was well chuffed with the selection, there is nothing like properly mature whisky when the wind is howling outside. They were all different, which was just what we wanted.

Glenfiddich is sweet, aromatic, smooth and tingly. The Macallan is unbelievably rich, chocolaty and fruity, grand and balanced. Highland Park shows some serious depth of toffee, nuts and spice with traces of peat fire. And finally Lagavulin. Oh, it delivers. As always majestic smoke, leather and adventure.

Despite the differences they all have one thing in common. They make you feel better no matter how much shopping and housekeeping you had to endure during the day!

So what is Teuchters Landing like overall? It’s grand. It’s far from everywhere major but that means you get a table. No crowds. They serve nice, hearty food. Homemade steak casserole is highly recommended. Apart from whisky they also have some good beers and lagers (we had a cheeky pint of the original Czech Budweiser to finish the evening off) and, apparently, wide range of wines.

‘What about the staff?’ I thought. The lassie who served us was nice, quiet and efficient but what about her whisky knowledge?

- Joe, how’s the staff whisky knowledge here?

Joe raised his hand with the tips of his index finger and thumb joined. Universally recognised sign – “zero”. No place is perfect I guess.


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