In this, the final part of the Glenrothes series I'm going to tell you all about one of the unique distillery experiences I have ever had, the fear, the worry, the sleepless night and the great result as I tackle Breakfast at Rothes House.
Now, as my wife will testify, I’m not really one for doing a lot in the kitchen. A lot of that is due to how great a cook Kirsty is but also I think we play to our strengths so I handle the liquid side of things (wine, whisky, cocktails and tea) and she handles the food. Perfect.
So, to explain, it is a tradition that the first night you stay in Rothes House with Ronnie you must cook him and your other hosts breakfast the next morning, this is then reviewed, written up and scored before being inserted into the ‘Breakfast Book’. A really lovely tradition started by Ronnie and Charles Maclean back in the day by way of Charles thanking Ronnie for being such a marvellous host.
“He’s an utter bastard”, Ronnie said of his alter ego who would be judging mine and Christopher’s efforts in the kitchen the next morning, “he’s very particular and appreciates things done properly” he added, ladening on the pressure, “he will mark you out of five Quaichs based on your efforts”.
I cannot quite explain it but the pressure Christopher and I felt to do a good job was enormous. We ended up having a midnight planning session after our lovely dinner with various whiskies and wine accompaniments, where we planned what we should do and how we were going to ensure a decent score.
We asked probing questions, were told how Alter Ego liked to read the paper in the morning and how he appreciated a fruit salad as well as a solid fry up and was a lover of flowers.
Remember what I said about playing to our strengths? Christopher and I did the exact same, as a dab hand in the kitchen and fan of cooking he handled the food side of things and did a bloody good job whereas I leveraged my brand building background to create an immersive and engaging breakfast experience to ensure we scored highly.
The day started early, around 6am where after only a couple of hours sleep I got up and started importing and editing a load of photos and videos I had captured as we had walked around the distillery the day before. This was to form the bedrock of the ‘wow’ experience we were aiming to deliver.
As with all things motion graphics, it took ages so I left it exporting as I headed intot he garden to cut fresh flowers that were inserted into two of the iconic Glenrothes bottles Christopher and I had polished off and saved the night before.
Christopher hit the kitchen big time, almost octopus-like as he masterfully chopped fruit, got the sausages, eggs, bacon and black pudding all on the go with perfect timing.
It was pretty apparent that Ronnie, and presumably Alter Ego, was a keen historian as he recounted tales of Scottish and English history intertwined with intriging anecdotes about the evolution of the whisky industry through the years. With this in mind it felt only appropriate to serve an historical cocktail so I set about creating the Churchill Breakfast Cocktail, a drink he apparently would have between glasses of champagne through World War II, by shaking cold brew coffee, a generous double measure of Glenrothes Manse Reserve, a couple of drops of peach bitters, a teaspoon of maple syrup and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
This was served at the beginning of breakfast and appeared to go down well. Naturally I did not feel up for walking about 40 minutes to the local store to pick up a paper so downloaded the day’s Times onto my iPad and, right at the last minute, changed the background on the device to be a picture of the Glenrothes distillery I had taken the day before. Something that Ronnie apparently appreciated.
Christopher plated up the fry up, and wow did it look and smell great. Once served I hit play on the Glenrothes brand video I had put together, with the theme from the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games as the backing track, and the experience was complete.
Ronnie loved it, we enjoyed it and got through it working well as a team and ultimately scored 4.25 Quaichs out of 5… a pretty high score, especially as it was just two of us where most teams had three or more.
We then headed into the highlands for a morning of shooting to celebrate.
Thanks to Ronnie and Glenrothes for hosting and for the unique (if stressful) experience, and to Christopher for being a great team mate and cooking a great breakfast!