Loch Torridon Country House Hotel, formerly a grand Victorian shooting lodge built in 1887 by the Earl of Lovelace, sitting in one of the most impressive locations the Scottish Highlands has to offer, has deep within its rather beautiful red stone walls a gem of a whisky collection.
Started back in the early 1990's, the collection has been built from humble beginnings into a fine assembly of over 300 expressions of some of the finest malts.
The malts stand organised into their respective areas of production, with a separate collection of unusual bottlings above head level in addition to a cask strength malt area.
All this is topped off with a small, yet highly representative selection of blends, whisky liqueurs and (dare I say it) foreign whiskies. There really is something for everybody's palate.
Over the past two years little has been added to the collection, with some personal favourites. Special malts for me include our 30 year old Laphroaig, a dram of which was generously offered to me last Hogmanay by one of the revellers in the house that evening. In addition to favourite drams however a great pleasure is, in particular, talking to guests, especially those who are not from these shores, about the pleasures of drinking malts, their sheer diversity. This way many a confirmed non-whisky drinker has been converted to the charms of this wonderful drink.
With such charms in mind, we are now organising themed whisky weekends, with informal and formal tastings alike, dinners at which the food is matched with the whisky, not the other way around! Many people, I guess, wouldn't even conceive of such an idea, but we at Loch Torridon Hotel prize our malts and take a great pride in putting our whisky - an essential part of Scottish culture, history and life today - at the forefront of what we do.
As the evening draws to an end, there are guests sitting in our whisky bar, wrapped in the warmth of an after dinner malt, watching the flames of the log fire flickering and drifting away to Islay over coffee.
It truly is wonderful to see both experienced drinkers of the water of life and novices alike sharing experiences of their 200th or their very first dram.
We look forward to seeing you at the Loch Torridon Country House Hotel.