Friday, December 20, 2013

Scotland Surprise

Most of my adventures are planned in advance, but every once in a while I’m offered a last minute trip that’s just too interesting to pass up. This was the case when the public relations agency for Royal Salute Scotch contacted me and asked me to go to Scotland.

I had traveled with Pernod Ricard in England (Beefeater & Plymouth Gin), Cognac (Martell) and even Australia (Jacob’s Creek), so I knew this would be first class fun, but this trip surpassed my luxury fantasies.

It all happened so fast (within days) that I really didn’t have a chance to ask too many questions. I just knew I was the guest of Royal Salute, Chivas Regal and Glenlivet. I was also told that I needed to bring an outfit or a black tie dinner, which involved a castle, a Duke and the passing of a bottle of scotch. I figured that was all I really needed to know.

The adventure began on a Sunday with a flight from my local airport to Chicago. Once there, I enjoyed the British Airways Executive lounge. I was flying business class so I knew a big meal was ahead on the plane, but I had a few hours so I snacked on some hummus with pita chips and a small brownie with coffee while I caught up on a bit of work.

On the plane, I settled into my own little “cubby.” I had only experienced BA business class once before and it was even better than I remembered, with an outlet and two USB ports to keep my electronics charged. I often wonder what it is that British Airways does that makes First Class even better than this – and worth thousands more.

I was happy to accept a glass of the Tattinger Brut Reserve Champagne pre-dinner, but skipped the nuts in anticipation of the meal.

The starter was an excellent heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad with balsamic vinaigrette. I chose the Black Truffle Tortellini with chestnut sauce and morel mushrooms for a main course and it was superb.

The ones were equally good and I was happy with what I had, a 2002 Bordeaux Blanc Sec.

I decided to skip the dessert that came with my meal, a lemon tart with honey mascarpone, and instead asked for the warm white chocolate chip cookies with some chamomile tea. As I watched two films (Admission, very good; Great Gatsby, awful).

I’m often asked how I can sleep on planes. The truth is that I’ve learned with this job to sleep whenever I’m given the chance! I often find it most difficult on European flights because you really only have about four hours to sleep before they are waking you up for breakfast.

In the case of British Airways business class it was a cantaloupe, honey and lime smoothie, a warm croissant and a warm bacon (I thought it tasted more like ham) roll.

When the plane finally landed I was ready to really stretch my legs, but I had forgotten just how much walking you really need to do in London’s Heathrow Airport.  There were also the stops (which I don’t remember from my last trip), where they took my picture twice.

Despite my “fast track” status, it still took me over an hour to get to my gate for my flight to Aberdeen, Scotland.

Even though there was only one class of service on this hour and a half light, British Airways once again impressed, with a cheesy egg burrito and morning cocktails, though I didn’t imbibe.

Once in Aberdeen I found that there was also a film crew making a video for Chivas and the lack of room would have me staying in Ballindaloch Castle instead of Chivas’ Linn House. I certainly wasn’t going to object to staying in a castle, but I was glad I got to at least have lunch at Linn House.

There was only a short time to freshen up before I met with Colin Scott, the master blender at Chivas Regal, to begin my introduction to scotch.

1 comment:

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