Thursday, July 30, 2009

Whisky Disappoints, Water Just Fine

Cape Breton delivers its reliably infinite variety of summertime diversions and distractions. I spent a day logging with Bob Nagel at his place. I got a load of firewood out of it, Bob a better view of the Bird Islands. He turns 80 in October but I was the one, not remarkable Robert, left arm-weary and back-sore by the day’s exertions.

Old friends Stephen Archibald and Sheila Stevenson paid us a visit. We went to Glenora to have a look at the whisky distillery, stopping on the way at MacDonald House museum. The old house commands a spectacular view of lovely Lake Ainslie and conveys a sense of lives lived by the Scots settlers 120 years ago and more.

The Cape Breton distillers are not allowed to call their product ‘scotch’. Just as well. The distillery tour disappointed: it turns out that distilling operations run only three months a year, from November to February. The malted barley is imported from Saskatchewan, the yeast from South Africa. The product does not evoke the single malts of Islay or Speyside: the folks at Lagavulin needn’t fear their Cape Breton competitors.

It finally feels like summer in Cape Breton. The mid-afternoon temperature on the deck yesterday reached 106 Fahrenheit. The old swimmin’ hole below the cabin is just the way we like it. We enjoyed a long, leisurely dip in optimal conditions: temperature ideal, slack tide, no chop, the world all our own.


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