Leigh's 2011 Adventure travel blog

Gnorman and Birket host a Webinar on Application Migration Best Practices.

Birket welcomes the Scotch fanciers to the tasting dinner.

Each place setting included five half-ounce samples of Scotch whiskey.

No Scottish event is complete without bagpipes. This is Lochie Bissaillion.

Marc Laverdiere, Canadian ambassador for MacAllan and Highland Park Distillery, taught us...

Birket and I discuss important matters.

Haggis is one of McGnorman's favorite dishes, along with a wee dram...

Tim and I enjoy our dinner and, of course, our wee dram.

Gnorman samples the 120 proof Cask Strength MacAllan single malt.

After the Scotch tasting dinner, Gnorman relaxes over a game of pool.


We left Barrie by 6:30 a.m., because I wanted to get to M B Foster Associates in time to attend a Webinar at 2:00. We drove down the 400, then cut over through Newmarket and south to the 401, missing Toronto morning traffic. As we got to Eastern Ontario, Tim suggested getting gas at Wilton, but the tank showed over half full, so I thought we would delay for a while. The tank was getting low when we raced into Chesterville at 13:30, just in time for the Webinar on Application Migration Best Practices.

Birket wanted to meet Gnorman, whom he had been reading about as we travelled across Canada and down to Boston. He was pretty happy to see us too, but Gnorman was his guy. As he prepared for the Webinar, I felt my adrenaline rise, and dug out my notebook. There were a number of people linked in across North America, using technology that allowed them to hear the presentation, see a slide show, and comment or ask questions. I found it exciting and very interesting, not to mention very familiar -- I felt I could give the presentation today, with my own experiences to illustrate every point.

A little later, Birket's significant other Lise arrived, and we headed off to The Kemptville Pub for the Scotch-tasting dinner. Following the red Camaro, we made our way across country the 20 or so miles to Kemptville. I knew that our gas was getting very low but figured we could make it to Kemptville. Just as we passed a little service station, the needle reached E and I commented to Tim that we were on the last part of the tank. Then the engine coughed, and I knew we were in trouble. We pulled into a building materials yard to turn and go back to the service station, but it was too late, the engine was dead. Tim walked back to the service station, borrowed a jeep can, bought gas to fill it and brought it back. We got the rig started, went back to the service station to return the gas can, filled the tank and away we went. It was only 3 km to Kemptville, which is full of gas stations. I felt that our guardian angel was with us, because we conked out right at Drummond's Gas.

Soon we were at The Kemptville Pub, which is one of Birket's enterprises. We got to meet the staff, Jodi, Karen, Kimberley, and Curtis. Manager Jodi lived and worked in Calgary., so we traded some stories. Tim and I had a beer and met some of the guests. They were fascinating, which I guess one would expect of Scotch fanciers. I was particularly impressed by a lady from Australia named Claudette, who had spent a lot of time in Africa.

Tim went out to get Gnorman, and we were seated for dinner to the soothing strains of bagpiper Lochie Bissaillion. Mark Laverdiere made a presentation introducing the MacAllan and Highland Park Scotches that we were to sample, and then led us through them as the dinner progressed. Mark has made a real commitment to his brands, having a tattoo of the Highland Park logo on his shoulder. There were five glasses in front of us, charged with half an ounce each of Scotch appropriate to accompany the various courses.

We started with 12-year old MacAllan, aged in Spanish oak. Our server was Kimberley, originally from Vancouver, and she did a superb job. The salad was spinach, onions and mandarin oranges, with 15-year-old MacAllan. Haggis was served with cask strength MacAllan, and Marc discussed how water breaks the ethanol micelles apart, freeing the aroma. We tried all the Scotches neat and "greeted" with water. The main course was lamb and potatoes, with a delicious 18-year-old Highland Park. Finally, we enjoyed our dessert of bread pudding with the most expensive Scotch of the night, an 18-year-old MacAllan for which bars usually charge $50 a shot. The evening wrapped up with a couple of games of pool with Tim. Fortunately, he loves his old daddy, so he let me win one game.

We planned to stay at the Walmart in Kemptville. It was closed, but when I peered in the door, they came and let us in, and I talked to the Assistant Manager, who agreed to let us park overnight. I also talked to a man with a very long beard, who has relatives in Otter Lake, Quebec, where we were headed in the morning. This was Tim's first night to sleep in Wandering Spirit.

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