Jaspal Bajwa journeys to the home of whisky and golf
A discerning drink deserves a truly distinctive experience and my invitation to join Johnnie Walker Blue Label and experience the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles was certainly not one to miss.
To celebrate the return of the Ryder Cup to Scotland after 41 years, the famous whisky maker has produced an exclusive limited edition bottle that appeals to fans of two of Scotland’s finest exports: whisky and golf.
I was lucky enough to fly out from London to Glasgow, where a group of us whisked on a 45-minute private helicopter ride over breathtaking lochs, mountains, moors and glens to arrive at the magnificent Bond villain-like lair of Corrour Lodge.
Nestled deep in the Scottish highlands within 57,000 acres of the Corrour Estate, the lodge is privately owned but can be hired along with its surrounding cottages for personal use. Although we were here for one night only, guests staying for longer can enjoy a wealth of activities including; fishing, clay pigeon shooting, deer stalking, pony trekking and quad biking.
After settling in to our luxury pad, we convened in the drawing room and were joined by our star companions for the evening – British actors Anna Friel and Rupert Penry-Jones – for a Johnnie Walker Blue Label immersion experience hosted by global brand ambassador, Tom Jones (not to be mistaken for the famous Welsh singer!).
We were treated to a master class in whisky tasting and educated on the finer points of what makes this particular beverage so special. We discovered that each cask is hand selected by the Johnnie Walker master blender himself, who is part of a lineage of master blenders stretching back over 190 years. The result of this meticulous process has a mellow, rounded nose, with a dry smokiness (a Johnnie Walker signature flavour) mixing with raisin sweetness. It is best savoured with palate cleansed and cooled by ice water.
Johnnie Walker has the largest reserves of Scotch whisky in the world, but only one in 10,000 casks contain whiskies judged to be of sufficient character for inclusion on the final blend, producing the remarkably smooth signature taste known the world over.
The indulgence continued with rounds of the show-stopping ‘Gentleman’s Wager’ cocktail; a perfectly balanced blend of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, sherry, peychauds bitters and poire williams eau de vie, poured over ice and presented in signature crystal tumblers.
After a lavish whisky themed dinner that included locally sourced Corrour venison, the drinks flowed well into the night as we mingled with our fellow guests and enjoyed the spectacular surrounds of the luxury lodge.
We awoke the following morning and set out again on private helicopters to make our way to Gleneagles for day two of the Ryder Cup. Upon arrival we quickly found a vantage point to take in the morning’s play and the unique tournament atmosphere of this golfing major event.
We were also treated to a putting challenge at the Johnnie Walker pop-up cube with mini golf course and cocktail bar overlooking the course’s second green.
While taking a moment to once more savour the taste of a Gentleman’s Wager cocktail before departure, I heartily agreed that the experience had lived up to its promise.
Sipping Blue Label at The Ryder Cup – a rare moment to treasure.
JOHNNIE WALKER Blue Label ‘Ryder Cup Limited Edition’ Bottle is available from the Whisky Shop (www.whiskyshop.com), Alexander and James (www.alexanderandjames.com) and specialist whisky outlets (£225).
Corrour Lodge is at the heart of the 57,000 acre Corrour Estate in the Scottish Highlands www.corrourlodge.co.uk
By Jaspal Bajwa