You’ve goat to be kidding!
A pygmy goat Pilates whisky tasting…have we finally taken our ‘maverick’ tastings theme too far? The Society’s Duncan Gorman rounded up some adventurous members to find out what happens when you combine cask strength whisky with a bunch of boisterous animals…
PHOTOS: PETER SANDGROUND
ABOVE: Duncan limbers up with the help of some friendly goats before being able to savour a Society whisky
Standing in a farmyard, Society bottles in hand and chatting with three trusting members, I wondered if we could find any connection between whisky and what was in store for us. But my moment of doubt was buried as I concluded that if it’s out of the ordinary, that’s even more reason to give it a try.
Thankfully we can always find maverick Society members who are up for a new experience – in this case, Vicki Elliott, Brendan Innes and Iain Steel joined myself and fellow Society writer Mads Schmoll to serve as whisky guinea pigs, with a mission to uncover how different environments can affect your appreciation of a dram.
Once settled, we each laid out a yoga mat and embraced some final moments of tranquillity over some dram-meditation. I’m not quite sure how effective that meditation was as we laughed nervously in anticipation of our furry friends’ imminent arrival. “I loved the atmosphere and the buzz and how not one of us knew what to expect,” said Vicki. “We were all in this wee whisky trial together!”
It was time to brace for impact. Drams clenched, a barrage of boisterous goats came charging through the door where they instantly began clambering all over us. Jo, from Pilates Attic, began leading us through a few moves, keeping us right as goats sprung on and off our backs. As Iain said: “It was weird, I was definitely out of my comfort zone. It was a sensory overload, but a real giggle at the same time, and it’s not often you get a ‘giggle’ when you’re a middle-aged guy.”
ABOVE: Society member Vicki Elliott gets into the spirit of one of the most unlikely whisky pairings she’s likely to experience
Having somewhat mastered a couple of goat-inspired moves, we headed out into the farm where we properly introduced the first dram of the day inside a grassy pen. Cask No. 60.30: Summer strawberry scones was a 9-year-old Highland whisky, matured in a first fill ex-bourbon hogshead, and had strong notes of citrus and apple pie.
Moving outside proved to be a great addition to the experience, as Vicki said: “The farm, the animals, the air, the dampness and the grassy dirty hands and knees brought an exciting fun rural vibe you could never recreate indoors. The drams were delicious, the goats were super cute, and it was a beautiful setting to be in.
“I really enjoyed being outdoors, just sitting chilling with whisky and nature, and the goats on our backs were just hilarious! The whisky tasting was enhanced with all the laughter and good fun, the senses were heightened!”
ABOVE: Iain Steel with some new whisky pairing pals
ABOVE: Maverick member Brendan Innes
Brendan agreed: “I really enjoy tasting whisky outdoors. The natural light and smells of where you are at the time can totally change what you might normally take away from a dram. I found the first dram was perfect for outdoor dramming. Light, fruity, summer in a glass!”
Now well-versed in Pilates and whisky, it was time to combine the two as we poured out a measure of Cask No. 122.60: An emulation of jam. This 10-year-old Spicy & Sweet dram was matured in a first fill ex-bourbon barrel, and at 60.4% abv certainly packed a punch. Brendan added: “If we’re not careful whisky tasting can be a bit pompous and introspective, so the hilarity of the pygmy goats was a great distractor from the formality of ‘nose, palate and finish’. It cut to the chase of ‘do I like the dram or not’, and what are the key things I’m taking away from this dram? It was a great opportunity to try something new, with new friends. A bit of a giggle! For me whisky is all about people and place, and this was exceptional in both!”
He continued: “An experience like this is going to change your perception about any whisky – even one you think you know well. It’s going to throw you off balance, quite literally in this case, just enough to allow you to discuss without pontificating.”
DEEP, RICH & DRIED HOOFS
Having tested our mobility, patience and palate, as well as collecting a few hoof-shaped bruises on our backs, we poured out the final dram of the day and embraced a moment to reflect on the madness. Cask No. 68.103: Sophisticated emulation was finished in a first fill ex-Pedro Ximenez hogshead after spending 12 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead, and made for a sublime Deep Rich & Dried Fruits dram to finish off with.
Summarising the experience, Iain said: “Environment has a huge impact on the whisky experience. The best drams are never those in a staid tasting, the best drams are the ones you have when you are in the right place, with the right environment and with the right people. Sometimes, this is in a crowded bar with friends, out hillwalking and sharing a dram with a random walker in the rain, sitting at home with music – or even, apparently being jumped on by goats!
“My highlight was the company, both human and ungulate, I really enjoyed having such a bizarre experience with such a lovely group of folk. I do feel that we all really clicked over the weirdness and the lovely drams. I will remember the experience for a long time to come, once the memory of the lovely drams has subsided.
“We all need a bit of ‘weird’ in life! The things that are a little bit different are the ones you remember most, no-one is going to be talking about that afternoon in summer 2023 where we sat and watched daytime TV.”