By Rob Allanson

Channeling Crazy Horse

Getting lost in the moment
It is said that whisky and friendship go together, and a couple of experiences I have had recently really have confirmed this. When the joys of friends, whisky, and places all fall together in perfect alignment.

The first of these was going back to a place where I love to sit and drink whisky, my dad's boat. It has one of the most perfect mooring spots on Windermere, in the English Lake District, looking straight down the mere to Ambleside and the fells beyond. It is one of those spots that you can never grow tired of.

I had been lacking in my offspring duties and had not been sailing with my dad for a while, life as ever seems to get in the way, but finally I got it toether and headed up for a few days.

The boat is quite roomy but its does not have the biggest galley in the world, yet dad manages to create some fabulous curries on the little cradle stove. There is nothing finer than sitting, replete from a good fish curry, watching the sun turn the sky several shades of red and gold, nursing a malt and putting the world to rights. It creates those perfect family moments that I hope eventually I will share with my daughter.

Friendship and whisky may be good kin folk, but throw in music and you have a very interesting mix. Now I don't mean just listening to is, but actually creating it. I recently had the good fortune to be involved in recording an album with the band I am in at the Balvenie Maltings.

A totally awesome and one off experience, and due in most part down to my fellow band member Sam Simmons, Balvenie's global brand ambassador. We, together with Master of Malt's Cat Spencer and Simon Roser from Simply Whisky, have been playing for a little while but Sam wanted to get some of the tracks recorded. Not just in a recording studio but using the Distillery as the fifth band member.

So with a little good fortune, the maltings was to be closed for a weekend, and a health and safety briefing ringing in our ears we set up our studio in this vast, echoey room.

Steve Parker, the sound engineer, was upstairs in the malt loft and the recording space was on the maltings floor below. The reverb in the room was impressive, at least four seconds; some bands pay seriously good money for this sort of thing.

For three days and nights, we and the distillery (and the staff who were brilliant) lived and worked in each other's pockets, shared a house, took tours and geeked out a little, drank some great whisky, ate meals together and attempted to channel the spirit of Crazy Horse. Such an intense experience and I cannot say thank you enough to those people who helped make it happen.

It went perfectly, but not without incident. Calm down Health and Safety folk, not that sort of incident, more of the spooky-dooky variety.

Those of you who have visited Balvenie will know that the maltings were built using some of the stone from the big house that sat alongside the distillery back in the 19th Century. The story goes that the lady of the house was waiting for her love to return but he never did and she pined away. Her ghost is said to still pace up and down the malt loft waiting. Footsteps have been heard, as Steve found out one morning when he was setting up. When a shutter opened slowly and slammed closed I think Steve was fairly convinced he was not alone.

My final perfect alignment of whisky and friendship also involved food, barbecue to be precise.

I have been aware of the Pitt Cue Co. in London for a little while, lived vicariously though its cook book, but never been, always wanted to.

Finally, I got chance to go, but because they dont operate a booking system you have to wait if you want to be seated. Well the weather in London that night was turning pretty nasty and the waiting time was long. To be honest I was for giving up and coming back who knows when; however my friend insisted we wait, it would be worth it. It certainly was, I am so glad we did. The pulled pork was something else and the choice of Bourbons and Ryes made for a lovely evening. This is the place in London for picklebacks.