the sunlit car park, let it cool off and then head for some distilleries on our way to the
coast; hopefully both will be cooler than sweltery Elgin, especially if we stay out of the
still rooms and keep to the warehouses.
Dallas Dhu and Benromach are two distilleries which are open again after ownership
changes, though only one is actually producing. Dallas Dhu, just to the south of Forres,
is an oddity; it's a museum to distilling but it doesn't make whisky. Considering that a
lot of distilleries feel and look entirely like slightly creaky museums to the distiller's art
which, almost coincidentally, happen to make whisky as well, Dallas Dhu's new status
must represent an attempt to fill a gap in the tourist market I'd have thought you'd need
an electron microscope to spot, but somebody must love it. I think they do good business
with coach parties, and certainly the place is very well laid out with extremely helpful and
enthusiastic staff. I buy a bottle of 1980 vintage 20-year-old which is very light in colour.
The lightness continues in the character of the whisky too, but it turns out to be a beauti-
ful, satiny, flowery dram and it seems a pity that when the existing stocks are exhausted,
that'll be it.
Benromach, just outside Forres towards the coast, has been bought by Gordon &
MacPhail, the indie bottlers of Elgin; it'll be a while before the whiskies created under
their ownership are up for sale - though as it's been opened for five years now, maybe
they're already selling big in the Italian market - but in the meantime I buy a bottle of
18-year-old from its previous incarnation. This is a goldeny-brown colour and reminds
me of light burr walnut; there's something nut-like and wood-smoke-ish about the taste
too, with lots of sherry. One to compare and contrast with the new stuff when it appears.
We make for the coast and the dunes at Findhorn; the river forms a small estuary here
with lots of sand and trees on the far side of the river from the long stretch of village,
which is busy with people enjoying the unexpectedly fine weather. Dinghies and power
boats everywhere. More ice cream. I hang around looking at boats and boring the guys
with Drascombe and Orkney Boats spotting.
'Hey; think we'll see Mike Scott?'
Leaving Findhorn, we pass by the perimeter fence of RAF Kinloss. When I was about
nine and we were camping nearby my dad got me to stand here at the perimeter fence just
yards from the end of the runway when a Shackleton was taking off, thinking I'd be im-
pressed. The Shackleton was a maritime patrol and ASW aircraft based on the old World
War Two Lancaster bomber; it had four colossally noisy propeller engines and when it
passed over, about twenty feet above, I nearly shat myself.
Dad just smiled when I told him how terrifying the experience had been and I recall
being suspicious about this, but he redeemed himself that evening when he arranged for
me to be a passenger in a speedboat towing a water-skier. The Shackleton was once mem-