The Distiller’s Clan Gathering – by Joe Foster

As a result of our “Whisky on the Menu” editorial in The Falkirk Herald on Thursday 10th March 2011 we received a letter together the-distillers-clan-gathering3with a wee story from one of the Falkirk Herald readers, a Mr Joseph Foster.

Last night I gave Joe a wee phone to ask him all about his story. Joe is 81 years old and was employed by ICI Grangemouth until he retired, many a year ago.  He sounded very enthusiastic about Whisky and his favourite tipple is a dram of Drambuie.

Joe is a resident in Falkirk and even said that his great grandchildren would visit him more if he had a laptop.

I asked Joe if he was the author of this wee tale and if so would he let us publish it on our website, to which he answered yes to both questions. So we hope all our readers enjoy this wee Whisky Tale as much as the Whisky Boys have.

The Distiller’s Clan Gathering, by Joe Foster

A Hundred Pipers led by the Black Prince on a White Horse carrying a Black Bottle, his bodyguard was a Highland Fuselier J. Walker called on leave from Edinburgh Castle, proudly wearing his Highland Sporran and his Imperial Gold Medal which was presented to him by King George IV for bravery when the Cutty Sark ran aground in Cambelltown Loch with a full load of Haig’s Dimple, bound for Brodick Castle. He and his brother, also J. Walker, managed to drink the contents of the hundred and odd barrels on board, thereby saving the ship. His brother is now promoted to Chief Pheasant Plucker on Royal Deeside.

Captain Burns of Glen Avon’s excuse for the incident was Heavy Dew on Ben Nevis and that his attention had been distracted by the cabin-boy J.B. Rare, who has been seconded from Caledonian MacBraynes. That was his excuse, but most folk said it was “A load of Old Cobblers“.

The march was from Airlie Castle to Inverhouse via the Isle of Skye, following in the footsteps of someone who could have become a great Scottish Leader, namely Rob Roy, but that is another story.

The march took them through some of the lovely glens and snow capped bens, Glenburgie, and Benriach, Glenfarclas and Benromach, and of course, Glenmorangie where the Drover’s Dram is Burn’s Nectar, not Sheep Dip as Old Rhosdhu, the shepherd, was known to drink after a hard day on The Famous Grouse moors where his good friend and Teacher, Mr McGibbons lived, also Tom Morris with his Black and White dogs called Poit Dhubh and Fraser’s Supreme, named in the Immortal Memory of his forefathers who were ardent supporters of Partick Thistle Football Club. The connection seems to be lost in the mists of time.

The marchers were hold up for a short period of time at the old Cameron Brig which spans the Strathayr, while Tam Dhu demonstrated his Spey Cast to all the sundry. Eventually, when the marchers got over the brig, the Bells rang out and there was a great cheer “Lagavulin, Laphroaig“, roughly translated means, “May your glass never be empty”.

The marchers, that morning, had come down Glenlochy and on the morning air you could see the Stag’s Breath. Far to the west you could see Islay Mist with its braw wee toons o’ Bowmore and Port Ellen. The gathering was held in the new Highland Park somewhere between Aberfeldy and Banff.

It was opened by Old Fettercairn from Clynelish, whose clan crest is a Falcon, he is sometimes known as the Buckie Lugger, why no one dare ask.  He has been known to have sown his Wild Oats from Aberlour to Tullibardine and many places between. It has been reported that he has been seen lurking about in the Callander Mist, the Glasgow Mist, Durham Mist and even as far away in the London Mist, so watch out on a misty night for a tall, thin chap with a small, black, spotted dog called Balblair – Gaelic for Misty.

The pipers in the Park were joined by the Royal Brackla brass band conducted by Donald Cragganmore from Craigellachie, near Convalmore, all well known names to the musical fraternity. But not so easy for our Oriental Postman.

More and more people crowded into the park. There was Tom Atin from Strathisla, The Laings from Glasgow, MacDuff from Glenesk, Ben Alder from Avonside, Mac Allan from Dalwhinnie, Glen Fraser from Deanston, the MacPhails of Islay who are related to the Mortlach clan from Glenlivet, well known for the part they playedin the 1745 carry on.

We also had Glen Keith from the Isle of Jura, Glen Elgin from Oban, Glen Grant from Cardhu, Glen Moray from Dalmore. You may ask “Why so many men called Glen?” Well, the story goes that a good may years ago there was a travelling man who toured Scotland, his name was Glen Knockando, and it is said that he had knocked at many doors in his time, especially when the womenfolk were on their own. He would knock and say, “what can I do for you?”, or words to that effect. It is said that he had a blanket relationship with some of Scotland’s finest noblewomen.

As the massed bands played all the old favourites, Pride of Islay, Pride of Lowland, Pride of Orkney, Pride of Strathspey and many more, the servants from the Whyte and Mackay’s and the Dewars, who owned the big houses in the area, dished up Atholl Brose.

The M.C. was Sir Auchroisk, Roy Calum Harold Inverleven Edradour Smith, Archie, for short. He is supposed to be the Chieftan of the Clan Campbell and made our overseas visitors welcome. Some of those were from France, Grand Marnier, fifteenth in line for the Crown of France, also Monesieur Remy Martin accompanied by his good wife, Martell.

From USA, Jack Daniels and his cousin Jim Beam, a Beefeater from London, Jameson from Bushmills in Ireland. We had Yuri Smirnoff and his brother Vodka Smirnoff from Russia. From the West Indes we had Dr Bacardi accopnaied by his wife Tia Maria, but I think pride of place was given to The Sailor, Captain Morgan, from the good ship Cockspur which, as we all know is now part of Lamb’s Navy. To tell the truth we had a real rum do which lasted for six weeks.

I have tried to name some of the folk but it would take years to name them all. Before I close I must mention our Nursing Sister, Heather Cream. Without her medication, which she called Irish Mist, none of us could have survived those six weeks.

O’ the festivities were aufy grand, as we sang and danced to the auld Pipe Band.
On the last evening we shed many a tear, the reason being we had run out of beer.
Wait a minute, it’s the tanker driver Hughie, he’s just delivered a hundred gallons of Drambuie.
So, farewell guid folks, till another time, the Band will play us out with Auld Lang Syne.

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