By Rob Allanson

Welcome to Whisky Magazine

Well by the time you read this the epic Bowmore Ben Nevis Challenge will be over and I will probably not be looking forward to tackling any big flights of stairs in a hurry.

I have never been in a room where the collective inhale of breath was quite so palpable as when challenge leader Ken Hames told us that this was the toughest challenge in the United Kingdom of its kind; and this from a long serving SAS officer and hardened adventurer.

Essentially the Ben Nevis event, supporting Capability Scotland, Scotland’s best known disability organisation, sees teams of disabled and non-disabled people work together to take on the challenge of scaling the UK’s highest peak.
The scale of the feat was brought home during a recent training weekend on Ben Ledi near Callander.

Although we have all been together for a previous training weekend, the idea is to form a slick unit that works as one, and this is what the Ben Ledi expedition was all about.

You very quickly managed to get the measure of yourself, not just in terms of physical fitness but mental strength as well. Also it is about forming a bond of trust between everyone, learning each others’ strengths and weaknesses.

We set off knowing that the path up the Ben deteriorated too much to get the specially adapted wheelchair to the summit, but there were enough technical sections to practise pushing, pulling, manoeuvring and manhandling the chair over obstacles and the mountainside terrain.

There are moments I have to say when you think you are going to die, or at least explode. That said there was a real sense of elation having reached our goal for the day and returned; that was just a little hill. The Ben is another 2,000ft on top of it. There will be some emotion and elation when we summit out on it. One thing for certain, this will be a life changer in many ways.

How will we celebrate? Well I for one will be carrying my little silver hip flask filled with something special, just as I did on Ben Ledi. A nip of the fruity and floral Aberfeldy 21 Years Old was a most welcome reward.

Whisky in the great outdoors, exactly where it should be enjoyed, connected to the land and the hills.

No other drink has such a connection to the place it comes from, and drinking it outside, especially surrounded by Scotland’s dramatic landscape. Mind you wandering into the back garden late at night with a dram is just as good. These moments for me are all about taking things slow, not being over analytical with the whisky, just sipping and savouring.

This also got me thinking about hip flasks, a great addition to the whisky traveller’s bag, and it does not take up much space. But how useful an item? In this modern age a hip flask harks back to a slower time. Also they are nice things to hold: smooth and cool.

No, I do not think carrying a hip flask is the sign of an alcoholic. It is the mark of a person who is prepared enough when travelling to have the fore thought and wherewithal to plan. When are you really going to find your favourite tipple hidden in the depths of a mini bar? That should be a very swift and short answer: never.

Investment drams

Alasdair Day

The Tweeddale Blend

What whisky have you bought to keep?
An old bottle of Haig Dimple from 1952.

What whisky will you sell or open soon?
I’ll open a bottle of Caol Ila 18 Years Old –the 12 Years Old is special, but the 18 Years Old is magic indeed!