The Whisky of Scotland | Water of Life

“By law, Scotch whisky must be produced, bottled and aged for at least three years in country to be called Scotch. Glenfiddich takes it farther. They still have a cooperage (where they make the casks) on-site. The head cooper, Ian MacDonald has worked there for 45 years and can put together a cask in 7.5 minutes, using only metal hoops and reeds to hold them together. These casks are used three to four times before they're chipped and repurposed for tasks like smoking salmon.

After our tour, we get to "walk the dog." That's what the Scots that worked in distilleries called it when they would drop a cylinder attached to a chain into a cask to get a little extra "compensation" for a hard day's work. After a quick tasting (Jon gamely, but timidly, participated) and a meal we head toward the Findhorn for the first real whitewater of the trip, much more difficult than the Spey's minor riffles.

After the initial shock and sting of the clear, brown water on that first rapid, the group starts flowing at river pace: that state in which all else melds together and away. Hangovers, jet lag, work stress, it all disappears as we paddle down the Findhorn, concentrating intensely in the harder rapids and then paddling slowly under the branches of trees in the colorful dampness of the Scottish valley.”

This is an excerpt from our feature story, Water of Life from SUP mag's Fall 2015 Issue. Read the full tale.