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Chasing spirits in Scotland

July 11, 2010 |  8:18 am

The translucent, amber liquid winked at me from the long-stemmed glass in my hand.

"I describe Glenmorangie Original as a kaleidoscope," master blender Rachel Barrie said as she led a tasting session with Scotland's biggest-selling single malt Scotch. "You get a floral complexity, like being in an Italian garden, and some sizzling spices. The taste is silky smooth, creamy, with zesty tones."

I wasn't sure I could identify all those things, but I gave it a sporting try. I was visiting Glenmorangie Distillery in Tain, in the Highlands region of Scotland, and trying to learn how to appreciate Scotch, the nation's best-known export. Besides, visiting Scotland without tasting Scotch would be like visiting France without tasting Champagne.

--Rosemary McClure

Scotch ages in casks at Glenmorangie Distillery, one of many dotting Scotland. (Rosemary McClure / For The Times)