Friday, March 14, 2014

What I learned at French Lick Resort's Taste of Scotland Event

Various brands of scotch
Guest Blogger Kristie L Smith

Being non-scientifically convinced that I am at least a wee bit Scottish, I was all about the Taste of Scotland event. The kick-off included a little back ground on the resort provided by Sandi Woodward of the Indiana Landmarks Foundation. Fred Minnick, Wall Street Journal best-selling author and photographer gave the keynote address and several breakout sessions were held with representatives from Southern Wine & Spirits and Bourbon Blogger, Tom Fischer.

Living so close to Louisville, Kentucky, I’ve been growing fond of bourbon and figured if scotch and bourbon were anything alike I would find some brand that I enjoyed. I had never really tasted scotch before and went into the day a little afraid I would betray my alleged Scottish roots and not even like scotch. I learned a lot in the small groups, but at the tasting, ta-da! I found several brands of scotch quite palatable and know for my personal taste, the less smoky flavor the better.

Here’s what else I learned:

Great group of friends who met for the weekend
 in a central location!
1.     Drink what you like – self-explanatory.

2.     Like those with whom you drink – makes sense.
 
3.     With scotch, adding water is not diluting, but rather dousing the  burn to  detect notes, flavors and finishes.

4.     Scotch isn’t just for drinking. Chef Paul created a stunning menu that utilized scotch as a key ingredient in everything from the salad dressing to the dessert.


Chef Paul presents the haggis
5.    Haggis isn’t as bad as it sounds – especially with an Oban chaser. Since the import and sale of sheep’s lungs was banned in the U.S. – sheep’s heart, liver and tongue are used instead. The original ban was instated to protect the U.S. from scrapie a close relative of bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease. The traditional haggis recipe calls for sheep’s liver, heart and lungs, to be spiced, stuffed and cooked. Cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper enhance the flavor of the ground oatmeal and organ meat. All ingredients are placed in an inside-out sheep’s stomach and boiled, served still in the stomach. Like I said, it doesn’t sound like the most appetizing, but it is tasty – especially with a chaser of scotch.
6.     Women are the past, present and future of the industry. From the invention of the distilling process to the current state of affairs in the scotch industry, women have been highly involved. It is widely believed that women began distilling fermented beverages. Later during prohibition in the United States, women made the best bootleggers. It was inappropriate for a male police officer to frisk or pat-down a woman – so they could easily hide weapons or booze under their skirts. Scotland saw their first female master blender, Rachel Barrie in 1995, though women had been working all along in the industry. From the beginning, they operated bottling lines, worked marketing and occasionally crashed through the glass ceiling to some of the other more male dominated roles. Sailing forth into the 21st century, women run two major whiskey companies and are comfortable at every level. They no longer are perceived as novelties because they are involved in so many aspects of the distilling process.
7.      Bag pipes rock. They just do.

8.       Finally, kilts are sexy. Yup, I must be Scottish after all.