A Taste of Oban with a Hint of a Long Bus Ride (OP-5/4/15)

Explorers,

Today marks the day at which our adventure took us from Inverness to Oban (Scotland), a ride that consisted of a series of bus rides which will not soon be forgotten. The scenery was amazing. Something that I have really enjoyed about the country of England and Scotland is that they constantly remind me of certain places in the states. While taking a tour of Loch Ness I was reminded of visiting the Pacific Northwest but during the ride I was constantly reminded of the Rocky Mountains from the snow-capped mountains of the Western Highlands. Once we arrived I was quickly astonished at the scenery of where we are staying. Our hostile is placed at the perfect position on the Oban Bay with a view that could only have been from a magazine, much different from the corn fields of Iowa.

We took the time to scout out the best seafood in the town, something that was a find, but before we were going to have supper we had a tour of the world famous Oban Distillery. The tour was my favorite part of the day because it was historical, fun, and also a great opportunity for me to relate my previous education from other classes. The Oban Distillery was the first building to appear in the area besides a couple local fisherman so in a way, the distillery started the town. After a brief history of the distillery, the class was given a tour of how the scotch was made. This part was where I was able to link my other classes to this course. The first thing we learned in the process was how the barley is malted which gives the Oban scotch is smoky hint. The Oban scotch is proud of this balance of four flavors hidden within: smoky, sea salt, orange, and a bit of honey. After the malting process the barley is heated in water to dissolve the sugars from the barley to make the wort. This process was very similar to the experiment I performed earlier this year in Microbiology when we brewed our beer.

After the wort was made, it was distilled to produce a more pure alcohol. The alcohol content from the original fermentation went from about 9% to about 25% after the first distillation. The Oban Distillery uses the concept of the head, heart, and tail with their distillations. Just like a fish, the fillet of a fish is the only thing taken and the head and tail are not used so the first and last bit of the first distillation we not used for the batch, instead they are reused for the next batches to come. The process of distillation was very similar to simple and fractional distillations which I performed in Organic Chemistry so in theory I could be able to make the scotch until this point;) We were then allowed to test a 14 year aged scotch being able to experience the four important flavors of the Oban scotch. There was much more that I learned from the tour and I also had the opportunity to get a fresh seafood supper after form the local market. So it’s safe to say that today was a success and I was able to learn some tasting skills which I might have to wait a bit to practice back in the states.

Until next time,

Caleb Milius

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