Fit For The Glens: 9 weeks to go…

I believe that in the writing of this post I am entitled to feel deeply sanctimonious, in marked contrast to that of last week. True to my word, after captioning the last of my images that day, I donned all the skin-tight clothing I own and set about sweating.

Maybe it is a trusim I shall now coin, but with turbo training the more you sweat the more effective the session was. With my frighteningly insulating Vanguard base layer and overshoes, it may have been hovering around freezing outside, and indeed inside, the garage, but I looked like a businessman enjoying some Swedish corporate hospitality. My hands went from numb with cold to more emitters of personal steam. I worried I might deserve some blame for global warming. After maybe 10 minutes I started pulling at the bidons and 50 minutes later I dismounted having almost drained both of my 750ml bottles. Despite there being nearly 1.5 hastily-ingested litres of water in my system, I felt drained, too, but the overriding (no pun intended) emotion was that of elation. In the summer I compiled some CDs of my my favourite music, one of which I put into the CD player for my session. Drowning out the whir of the trainer itself were Aerosmith, Dire Straits, Fleetwood Mac, Dream Theater, The Cult. The list, fortunately, went on, and what could have been purgatory flashed by whilst also reassuring me that my careful excesses of the week before had not hindered me too much.

My run on the Friday was similarly encouraging. It lasted just over 15 and a half minutes, but this was seven seconds quicker than the last time I trained over that circuit.

Three successive days of waiting-on taught me various things about endurance, not all of them relating to the purely physical. I cannot deny that it was worth it, however, for my Sunday pay packet was greater than all bar a couple of my summer weekly earnings. A few more like that and I shall feel a lot more placcid getting on that train in April. Money is still a concern, however. The only outstanding expenses needed before I leave are maps, another pair of shorts, a lock and those train tickets, but how I am to pay for everything once north of the Tweed is a matter of no small delicacy, for obviously carrying vast amounts of cash is not at all desirable. Plastic may be my saviour as I head into the second half of my journey.

Still as yet unridden. Hopefully, this should no longer be the case by next week. The middle of April onwards, I completed another turbo sesh yesterday. In truth, there was nothing meteorological stopping me from cycling in the open air; the sun was even shining. Next week, though, is my target for beginning the amassing of real road miles. Equipment needs to be swapped, you see, so I’m persisting with the indoors for now until I can trust that the snow has given up its evil schemes.

This most recent period with the stationary bike was not quite so euphoric. Air temperature was a little higher than last week and I thought foregoing the jersey would counteract this but at 40 minutes in, I could see the perspiration condensing on the outer fibres of my base layer. I made sure I completed a full hour, however; an effort that I repaid with two huge sandwiches, a mug of soup, some raisins (high GI, so good for speedy muscle recovery) and an oat bar. I’m a finely-tuned machine, I thought to myself as I lounged in front of ‘Two and a half Men‘ .

Ahead of my body, my senses have seen a return to authentic service. On Friday I sampled my first new whisky since the op: the Tomatin 12-year-old. I’ll share my findings of this dram with you next week, once I’ve conducted a second tasting. Otherwise, The Dalmore 15-year-old was my final reacclimatisation malt, and its terroir factor-oriented notes are below. I also completed notes I started last year for the Clynelish 14-year-old and the Tomintioul Peaty Tang which I’ve included as well.

As far as the blog itself goes, Google Analytics is a wonderful tool. The glut of my visitors are UK-based, but I also have readers in France, Norway, the USA and even a few visits from Russia. Hello, all of you! I hope you’ll carry on visiting all the way to April when this site shall really come into its own. Speaking of realising potential, I’ve been in touch with a number of whisky outposts, trying to wheedle a link to me. The Whisky Directory has attached me to their impressive database; the whisky section of The Scotsman website got back to me but I haven’t heard anything further; I’m going to re-send my email to Whisky Magazine once finished here and perhaps the perfect partner for my whisk journey, www.scotlandwhisky.com, has yet to make contact, but then I only emailed yesterday afternoon. So yes: it is incredible how things can propagate on the web, but I believe a little more focused exposure can allow me to reach those I think would benefit most from learning about my odyssey, Scotch and Scotland.

The Dalmore 15-year-old 40% (See ‘Most Hotly-Awaited’)

Colour: Round, smooth and glowing log fire orange with golden syrup highlights and pistachio green edges.

Nose: (FS) Acres of smooth, nutty Sherry wood: fine-grained and oily. Full and rich malt with a dry, green peat husk. Walnut shells, only moister than you would expect. Building heathery floral notes. (WW) More open. Nutty vanilla. Soft, crumbly and cake-like peat lends a complex dryness. Warmed satsumas. Glorious breadth across the whisky ingredient spectrum.

Palate: Sweet, slightly peaty with a delicate oaky firmness. Nutty, dry Sherry.

Finish: Hints of caramel, honey and heather. Milk chocolate, hazelnut and cranberry.

Clynelish 14-year-old 46%

Colour: Clean gold with lemon highlights.

Nose: (FS) Medium-bodied and medium-dry with a light sandy texture. Strong scents and further textures of seaside wood. Mayonnaise with a considerable mustard kick. (WW) Sweeter and smoother with a little more cohesion. Develops an interesting damp/rich peaty smokiness. Vanilla sponges and vanilla cream.

Palate: Cerealy, semi-sweet and well-defined. Very unobtrusive peatiness underpins everything.

Finish: Lightly, sweetly grainy. A touch of juicy fruitiness to the front of the mouth and lips. Very good balance with

Angus Dundee: this was the wrong malt to subject to over-peating.  Dryness and a touch of salty seaweed.

Tomintoul Peaty Tang 40%

Colour: Bright honey gold with blackened amber highlights.

Nose: (FS) It is an Ardbeg-esque smokiness to start with: sharp and woody with an underlying sandy quality. The smoke grows softer and more heathery. Citrus antibacterial cleaner. (WW) Still retains an initial Islay-style smoke profile. Underneath this, though, is the gentle softness hinting at its true origins with runny heather honey and toffee apples. 

Palate: Gentle and smooth lightly-peated malt and honey is quickly conquered by full and aggressive, heathery peat and smoke.

Finish: Sweeter notes struggle against the peat blanket. Occasionally this yields an interesting exchange, but overall the lither, more dextrous dancer has been smothered by the sumo wrestler. The gentle dram never stood a chance.

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