Visit MacAulay Canada tent at Victoria Highland Games

MacAulay Point Park, Victoria, BC (Photo courtesy of Todd Fowler)

MacAulay Point Park, Victoria, BC (Photo courtesy of Todd Fowler)

Visit the MacAulay Canada tent at the Victoria Highland Games May 21-23, 2016 at Topaz Park in the Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Please check out the Victoria Highland Games website for more information on specific events.

Pre-Games events include:

  • Saturday May 14th, the Annual Victoria Tartan Parade will start from Centennial Square at 11 am
  • Sunday, May 15th, Kilted Golf Tournament at the Olympic View Golf Club
  • Wednesday, May 18th, Tilted Kilt Pub Crawl (tickets must be purchased in advance)

Be sure to attend the Annual Clan Torchlight Ceremony that will take place at the beautiful BC Legislature Grounds Saturday, May 21, 8 pm to acknowledge those clans involved in the Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival. And on Sunday, May 22, 12 pm be at the Opening Ceremonies for the March of the Clans and Massed Pipe Bands, a truly magical experience. Continue reading

Happy Tartan Day!

John and Beth MacAulay Court (left)

John and Beth MacAulay Court (left)

A very happy Tartan Day to all Scots!

Special thanks to John MacAulay Court for sending this photo from Saturday’s annual Tartan Day dinner in Toronto ON, organized by the Clans and Scottish Societies of Canada (CASSOC).

Tartan Day, recognized wherever Scots and descendants gather, “For so long as there shall but one hundred of us remain alive …” is held to honour the Declaration of Arbroath, 6 April 1320.

Glenfarclas 21 – A Fitting Tribute to the Bard

Special thanks to Doug Doughty for submitting this whisky review, although I’m a little sad I was unable to join him at the Robbie Burns Supper in Montreal this year. Enjoy!

Since I moved to Montreal a few years back, I have been going to the St. Andrew’s Society Annual Burns Supper.  It is held in the University Club, which has an amazing selection of Single Malts.  I always have a hard time selecting the whisky I will be enjoying. The first time I went I enjoyed a 21 year old Mortlach (one of my wife’s favourites) and when I told my wife, who was not with me, she was clearly jealous. I can’t repeat her exact words…

Well, this year I thought I’d try a Glenfarclas.  I had seen Glenfarclas all over Scotland, particularly in Speyside region where the distillery is located. I had always meant to try it, but always chose something else. On this evening, I opted for the 21 year old.  The bartender had to hop on the counter to retrieve the bottle; now that’s a top shelf whisky.

He poured me a dram which I could barely wait to sample. It was the colour somewhere between honey and caramel, always a good look for a single malt.

I sniffed the bouquet.  I detected floral notes, possibly some heather or clover, and maybe a hint of vanilla.  But the most interesting thing about the nose was, it smelled warm.  Not like if bottle was stored in front of a heating register, but rather it smelled the way a warm hug feels. It embraced my olfactory senses heartily.

I took a sip to see what pleasures awaited my taste buds.  There was a smokiness to it, but not like a heavily peated whisky.  It was just the right amount.  You could detect fruitiness and floral notes in the taste as well. There were hints of apple and clover and maybe a very subtle vanilla.

One sensation I particularly enjoyed was how on the finish, my tongue tingled.  After every sip it was there teasing me, begging me for more.

When I looked up Glenfarclas 21, the World of Whisky website said “Overall: Very, very pleasant. Could teach Roger Moore a thing or two about smoothness.”

And that is the adjective which best describes this wonderful water of life.  Smoooooooth.

Robbie Burns’ Supper 2016 (Montreal)

Contributed by Doug Doughty (First Dude of Western Canada) …

For the last few years, I have been attending the Burns Night Supper held annually by the St. Andrew’s Society in Montreal.  It is held in the University Club, which is the kind of place heavily steeped in tradition and history.  This year’s Burns Night was held on Friday January 22. To read more, click here.

Happy Robbie Burns Day from Clan MacAulay Canada!

May we all lift a wee dram in honour of Robbie Burns this day. I enjoyed the Visit Scotland page on Burns and thought I would share. Two years ago while in Scotland we visited the Robbie Burns Museum.

Visit Scotland: “Robert Burns is one of Scotland’s most important literary figures and is best known for his famous, and often humorous, songs and poetry. Burns was an inspiring and passionate pioneer of his generation and is regarded as Scotland’s National Bard.

More commonly known as Rabbie, Burns was born to a poor family in Alloway, Ayr, on 25 January 1759 and began his working life on the family farm. Burns’ father recognised the importance of education and hired a local teacher for Burns, who went on to demonstrate signs of an exceptional writing talent from a very young age.

As Burns grew older, his great passion for Scotland and his dynamic, contemporary vision played an important role in inspiring the founders of socialism and liberalism. His literary fame began when his first work Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, later known as the Kilmarnock Edition, was published in 1786 after which his writing career flourished.

Although Burns only lived to the age of 37, he enjoyed an eventful life and produced an astonishing amount of great literary work during his career.

Burns is famous for his political views, revolutionary behaviour and his love for the lassies, all of which can be seen in his extensive catalogue of work. Burns was also inspired by the beauty of Scotland, particularly the breathtaking scenery of Ayrshire, his birthplace, and the romantic setting of his later home region of Dumfries & Galloway.

Although more than 200 years have passed since his death, Burns remains one of the most celebrated figures in Scottish history and culture, demonstrated by the annual Burns Night celebrations held across the country on 25 January each year.”

Glen Garioch – from one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland

Special thanks to Doug Doughty, aka First Dude of Western Canada, for submitting this whisky review.

On one of my recent sojourns into the SAQ (Quebec’s liquor stores) I was idly wandering through their whisky selection, as I often do, when I saw a whisky that caught my eye, Glen Garioch.  It comes from one of the oldest whisky distilleries, dating back to the 1700s, and is located near Aberdeen; making it the most easterly distillery in Scotland.

On the box, it describes the tasting notes as “fresh heather, poached pears and malted barley, crème brulee, and sweet ripe fruits give this Glen Garioch a long and memorable finish.”

I poured a dram and I examined the colour; it was the colour of golden honey. It had a warmth and was very appealing.

The nose was lively and very fresh. It held some nuances that I couldn’t identify but they filled my nose with delight and a hint of peat. I could detect a heather honey smell and a slight whiff of caramel.

On first taste, the palate was sweet, but not overly so, and oh how it lingered. On second sip, there was more sweetness and again the hint of peat, a lingering sweet smokiness. When I started drinking whisky, I wasn’t overly fond of the smoky, peaty flavours that are present in many whiskies, but I have grown to appreciate them more as my palate develops. And the Glen Garioch has a subtle yet appreciable smoke to it. Like the sweetness, it isn’t overpowering, it’s just the right balance.

The finish, which does last as advertised, leaves your tongue all tingly. It’s the perfect complement for a good cigar; the sweet and smoke combining and lingering with the subtleties of the cigar. A perfect match.

Glengrant – The Major’s Reserve

Special thanks to Doug Doughty for submitting this whisky review. A very active member of Clan MacAulay international and a huge help to me in participating in events here in Canada and abroad, Doug likes to be referred to as “First Dude of Western Canada”. 

When I think of single malt whisky, my first thought tends to the highlands, and never to Mexico.  But recently, on vacation in Mexico, Joan and I were in a wine shop looking for a specific Mexican wine when I discovered a new single malt that I hadn’t heard of previously. Glengrant, The Major’s Reserve was distilled in Rothes, Speyside, Scotland.  And the price point appealed to the Scot in me.

I didn’t open the bottle while in Mexico but I did open the box.  What struck me was the colour of the whisky.  It was not the traditional golden caramel colour I’m used to seeing, but instead was a pale yellow.  I thought to myself, this looks like a very thin whisky, but would reserve judgement until I had tried it first-hand.

When I got home, I poured a dram into my glen cairn. I held it up to my nose.  The initial bouquet was smoky with a medicinal hint to it.  It was not what I expected to smell, but I persevered.

I took my first sip, and it was subtle, a slight peaty taste, but the finish was truly amazing.  The box describes the taste as “The superb Single Malt offers a fresh and vanilla palate with a slightly dry and hazelnut finish”.  It had a definite taste of vanilla, but the hazelnut was lost on me, which is ok, because I am not a fan of hazelnut.

Overall, the visual impact was less than I was expecting, the nose was interesting, but the finish was subtle and silky, and worth the wait.

I can honestly recommend this whisky, and sometimes it’s fun to gamble on the unknown, particularly when it pays off.

Still haunted by whiskey drinking!

They say that taste has a memory. Perhaps because of this not everyone has acquired a taste for the water of life. Is it because certain persons imbibed in the distant past with unexpected and unfortunate results? Laurence McAulay, Clan Commissioner for Northern Ireland, kindly shared the very sad tale of his long ago experience with whiskey (note the Northern Ireland spelling!). I hope you enjoy his story as much as I did!

“Sorry to say Karen and I are not the people to ask re the delights of whiskey (notice the correct spelling)  … it is not a drink we would gladly partake … OK we’re lightweights!

From my point of view whiskey still haunts me from the past… since my workmates took me out to celebrate my stag night in the late eighties. My so-called friends plied me full of double ‘Black Bush’…yes our very own County Antrim so-called nectar, named after the local Bush River, from the oldest legal distillery in the world…1608 I think.

This was my first real taste of whiskey and boy did I suffer…the last thing I remember was crawling around the floor of a popular night spot in Portrush, Northern Ireland’s premier beach resort! Then it all went blank.

It took me a good few years even to get over the distinct aroma of whiskey and it wasn’t until a quite recent visit to Bowmore Distillery, on the island of Islay, that I plucked up the courage to have a few drams (I had no choice as the kind lady in the bar set us up three large tumblers full to make up for us missing the fully booked tour…so it would have been rude to leave them). We both left the distillery quite jolly to say the least.

So you see my experience of whiskey drinking taught me that it is an acquired taste…and I just haven’t acquired it!”

Laurence, I hope someday you’ll find a newly found appreciation for whisky/whiskey and join us for a few wee drams!