A Visit to Tomatin Distillery

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Tomatin is a contradiction of modernity and history. Situated just off the A9, the main north-south artery in Scotland’s central and eastern Highlands, the distillery’s grounds look like a vacation village, with sweet little cottages and houses and a wee … Continue reading

A Visit to Balblair Distillery

I’ve been a fan of Balblair since the first time I tasted the 2001 vintage a few years ago. It’s a very ur–Highland malt, embodying all the flavors and textures idealized in the style, and because the brand tends to … Continue reading

A Visit to GlenDronach Distillery

When I visited GlenDronach in July 2014, I’d already been on a number of distillery tours in the preceding days. That very morning, I’d been to sister distillery Glenglassaugh and was eagerly anticipating learning more about the place that makes one … Continue reading

A Visit to Glenglassaugh Distillery

When you drive up to Glenglassaugh, it looks like a fairly ordinary Scottish distillery. There’s a modern visitors’ center, a few historic buildings and dunnage warehouses, some larger warehouses from the mid-20th century, and nice if modest scenery surrounding it all. … Continue reading

Cretan Delight


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Last week, I took a belated honeymoon to Crete. I’ve been dreaming of visiting Greece for years, and although my finances don’t permit a month-long cruise on a private yacht around the islands, spending a week on lovely Crete turned out to be an excellent Plan B.

The island just teemed with beautiful edibles, like the artichoke plant above. Because it’s just the beginning of the season, a lot of things weren’t ripe yet — grapes and olives, most notably — but still, every day we gobbled fresh oranges plucked straight from the tree and marveled at the abundant lemons and limes in nearly every garden.

We’d deliberately rented a villa with a kitchen, but most of our meals were simple — fresh yogurt and honey in the morning, nibbles on the beach during the day, and sausage, peppers, olives, pasta, wine for dinner. Every meal we ate out was mouthwatering: the best gyro I’ve ever had after an 18 km hike, stuffed with salads and fries; oven-baked lamb so tender I didn’t even need a knife; pan-fried snails with thyme; and, naturally, a delicious whole fish (don’t even remember what kind it was) with nothing but fresh lemon.

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Before I tore into him. Doesn’t he look so peaceful? The “after” scene was a brutal business, indeed.

Every meal, even the gyros, included wine or retsina and was followed by a delicious dram (does one call it that? It wasn’t a shot because we sipped it) of ouzo. The local wine was so fruity and fresh, full of citrus flavors and sea salt, with herbal tones and some kind of rich warmth I can’t describe. It did taste just as I imagined the landscape would.

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Overlooking Agia Roumeli, on the southern coast.

My only regret is that the week passed too quickly, and at the end, I couldn’t take any of the local wine, honey or raki home with me (thank you, ridiculous EasyJet luggage fees!). I suppose that just means I’ll have to go back again someday with a little more money and, hopefully, a lot more time.