Rabbit. About a fortnight later the notice appeared on the University notice board which
led, a week later, to the not so minor miracle of the successful mobilisation of 150 mainly
male students at 6.30 on a Saturday morning.
Suitably dressed in medieval-looking stuff - basically knitted string, sprayed silver to
look like chain mail - we were whisked up to Sherrifmuir - scene of a real battle in 1715,
during the first Jacobite rebellion - for a long day's filming, part of which consisted of us
shouting things like 'Get on with it!' and 'Betty Maaaarsden!' No idea why.
When we'd finished I got a lift back down to the campus in the Black Maria police
van that suddenly turns up at the very end of the film; between the peat and some weird
leaching effect of the silver-sprayed, knitted-string socks, my feet were black for a week.
All for two pounds, which was the Equity rate at the time. But then I think most of us
would have paid ten times that for the privilege.
Deanston is a dramatic-looking distillery in a handsome setting. It's another converted
mill, this time an old textile mill designed by Richard Arkwright. It was converted into
whisky production in the boom years of the sixties but was closed between 1982 and
1990. The mill overlooks the river Teith, which is a major tributary of the Forth (actu-
ally, going by relative amounts of water contributed to the blend, it's more the other way
round, so we might, conceivably, have had the Firth of Teith, the Teith Bridge, the Teith
Road Bridge and, presumably, the Mouth of the Teith. Narrow escape). The river not only
provides the water to make and cool the spirit, it also powers the mill itself, though not
through water wheels as it did in Arkwright's day; there are two water turbines producing
electricity, with any that the distillery doesn't use itself going into the National Grid.
The daftness of the whisky regions comes into play here; like Glengoyne, Deanston is
supposedly a Highland whisky, but it isn't. This area just ain't the Highlands and Dean-
ston tastes like a Lowland whisky; quite light, very clean, the delicacy of the nose match-
ing the paleness of the whisky's colour, and with a very pleasant mix of nut-like spici-
ness and gentle creaminess about it. Deanston is a highly valued blending whisky, but it's
worth seeking out as a single malt; definitely another of those whiskies that could benefit
from a decent promotional push.
I take an appropriately meandering route across the floor of the Forth's flood plain,
along a slow, tightish road past damp-looking fields heading vaguely towards the
Trossachs, then head south past Scotland's only Lake, the Lake of Menteith, crossing the
Forth a mile or two later, traversing Flanders Moss.
From the commanding height of the Defender, I check out the Forth - barely more
than a stream here - as I drive over the bridge. I committed a lot of these bridges to
memory when Les and I were planning our downriver trip. This consisted of us putting
two canoes in the waters - the very shallow waters - a mile west of Aberfoyle where
the Forth is formed by the confluence of Duchray Water and the outflow from Loch Ard,