It's been a while since but... the Gathering/ An Cruinneachadh 2009 was an intoxicating event. There were even bilingual English/Gaelic signs. Itself a good sign. Years ago, our indigenous tongue would just have been ignored. Now, at least it's visible.
Apparently it was the biggest gathering of the clans since Culloden though i'm not sure if the many rotund and kilted Americans here in the shadow of Arthur's Seat could have charged the guns of Butcher Cumberland. Making it to their coach in the car park 200 metres away was the best Highland charge they could muster.
Clans are something most Scots rarely think about these days. They do have their historical place and as such are of interest to some. Tourists like it. And chinless toffs with not-very-Scottish accents and certainly no Gaelic seem to love it and fight over the right to gain their 'clan seat' and play at being laird. Reminds me of Oi Polloi's angry classic singalong 'Take Back the Land' from their Fuaim Catha LP:
"I'm the clan chief o.k. yah
I support Scotland when they play rugger
But an independent country? there I'd draw the line
I own this land it's mine all mine."
I was amused though to see, in the 'clan village', a wee tent for 'Clan Paisley'. The only tartan i've seen in Paisley were the Burberry baseball caps on wee radges running from the cops and towards their own rough-bounds of Ferguslie Park. I understand though that clan warfare is still a regular occurence in auld FP.
The Gathering was not without it's good points though. Dougie Maclean sings of love with haunting melodies recalling memories of his father and fore-fathers who actually worked the Highland soil, rather than owning it. His softly spoken politics, humour and warmth speak louder than the combined ranks of professional politicians in New Labour and the Tories who still use scaremongering to keep us tied to Westminster.
From there it was to Satan's lair, sorry Diageo's whisky tent, where we managed to blag ourselves into the one or two remaining seats for their guide through some regular malts under the tutelage of Dave Broom and Charlie Maclean. It was beginners stuff but 6 free malts, inlcluding Lagavulin and Caol Ila are not to be sniffed at. Unfortunately, the Special Releases Masterclass, were a few drams too far.
And, as we rolled out of Diageo's bevy bothy, who walked past us but the aforesaid Dougie carrying a bottle of Edradour's new expression Caledonia. 'Is that open yet Dougie?', 'Aye, here, have a dram'. 'Slàinte mhath gu dearbh!'
There are no tasting notes other than it's 46% and on the occasion, it certainly was the uisge-beatha. Aye, and Dougie Maclean was a gent. Catch him at the next available opportunity.