By Rob Allanson

Welcome to Whisky Magazine

It has been a little slow at the moment travel wise.The rigours of moving house have taken their toll somewhat, however a recent trip up to The Macallan provided a welcome break.I have not been up to Speyside for a while so it was a thrill to hop in the hire car and take a leisurely drive from Aberdeen along roads that become imprinted in your mind.Rolling out towards Rothes through a Spey Valley bathed in a summer’s afternoon, Mother Nature and Scotland conspired to do their best to distract me, begging me to stop and enjoy the views. That and a feature on the radio about John Lennon’s final concert.As I followed the road through the valley, the sky was heavy with these tremendous dark, brooding rain clouds, here and there were shafts of sunlight bursting across the green hills laden with barley and heather.On occasions I could make out the Spey snaking through its age worn valley creating an ethereal mist as it warmed in the late evening sun.The car filled with that river smell, laden with damp wood and heather. Whisky landscapes don’t really come more soft and comforting than this.Finally reaching my destination, the Craigellachie Hotel, I booked in and headed across the road to the Highlander to slake my thirst.Nothing is more welcoming than the perfectly cooled pint of ale and the end of a trip, and a firm handshake from Tatsuya at the Highlander.This man never forgets a face. I have not seen him since Whisky Live Tokyo, yet there is still the big smile and chat, mainly about the fact his wife is pregnant and due near next year’s Tokyo. Congrats and good luck.Sometimes I travel heavy heartedly – away from the family and a darling daughter who is now going on two but thinks she is a teenager sometimes.But the freedom of being on the road can also bring a peace of your own. It gives that much needed thinking space sometimes. I usually write late at night when the house is quiet, listening to jazz with a decent dram, but the space afforded by being cradled in the heart of Speyside is welcoming and inspiring. I managed to fill several sides of A4 just before dinner at the Craigellachie.This thinking space I have only found recently on the motorbike – put on the helmet and the senses and head seem to clear.Two things are similar. You have no one other than yourself and total strangers to interact with.I think that is why when you come to leave somewhere, especially when you have shared an intense experience, it is a little harder than usual.