A chance to sip some Scotch in Glenwood | PostIndependent.com

A chance to sip some Scotch in Glenwood

Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs CO Colorado
On Saturday, Scott Beach will walk participants through a Scotch whisky tasting at the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. Fully kilted, the proffessional bagpiper will explain the different flavors, origins and history of the drink.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” In a valley that bubbles over with artisan beers and wines, what on earth could be so special about a Scotch whiskey tasting?

As Gayle Mortell fielded that question, she laughed, firing another one right back.

“How often do you get to hear bagpipes?” she said. “Never!”

Delving into specifics, Mortell, the director of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, gave an outline of Saturday’s event. Everyone gets a place mat, decorated with a Scottish map, she said. On it, six small samplings of Scotch will sit. While attendees try their lips at each, bagpiper and master of ceremonies Scott Beach will walk them through the varieties. Those wanting a “fuller” sip may order from the bar. Those who’ve taken a few swigs too many may take a waiting taxi home.

“It’s a perfect way to lift everybody’s spirits in the dead of winter,” Mortell said.

She feels Scotch has a bit more class, a bit more history than most booze. But she also admitted she’s much more of a wine drinker. And when it came to the real cache of the Scotch, she doesn’t quite understand. Then again, who does?

“It has rich, sensual nuances of honey and marzipan,” said Erin Donovan, giggling as she read about a certain Scotch. Also a novice on the liquor, the center’s assistant development director was still jazzed about the upcoming event, anyway.

“I’ve learned a lot about Scotch lately,” she said, doing her best at an overview.

She talked about peat, the swampy organic mass that gives Scotch its distinctive, woody flavor. She spoke of the different regions, the highlands, the lowlands, the islands, each of which will be represented at the tasting. She mentioned varying ages of the drink and spoke of blends and single malts. But she was also honest. For the “whole explanation” of the stuff, she said, you’ve got to find somebody else.

Enter Beach. At 38, the professional piper has been a Scotch drinker for the last two decades. He was born to a Scottish mother and American father, and as a child spent a few formative years living in the country. His grandfather was such a devout Scot, Beach doubts he ever owned a pair of pants. So, when it comes to the Celtic liquid, it’s all about heritage for him.

“You need to know the land before you can really know about Scotch,” he said, speaking from his Lakewood home.

And that’s just what he aims to get across on Saturday. He sees event as a lively one, an informal time to “let your hair down” (responsibly, of course). Even in Scotland, not everyone likes Scotch, he explained, and he’s heard people liken the taste of the stronger vintages to Band-Aids, old fish, the ocean. Despite its “extremely acquired taste,” however, he insisted there’s something communal about this spirit.

“It’s something you can sit down with friends with,” he said. “People love to sit around and talk about Scotch. They really do.”

For first-timers, he recommended adding some water ” and an open mind ” to the samplings. He went on, mentioning Americans’ love of authenticity, the importance of trying new things. But it was his simplest sentence that made the night sound quite tempting.

“It’s mostly about people having fun, you know?” he said, laughing.

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