Cigar Aficionado

A Spirited Fantasy Camp

The problem with fantasy camps is they all assume a level of experience or ability that I don’t have. You probably want to have swung at a fastball some time recently before you go off to baseball camp to face down a major league pitcher. And if you’re going to rock’n’roll fantasy camp, you might first want to have spent some time jamming with other musicians, not just strumming chords in your basement while the cat wails.

Now, a lucky few are going to enjoy a fantasy that is right up my alley. The Glenrothes single malt Scotch is holding a contest that will determine four winners to attend a week-long experience at its distillery in Speyside, Scotland in May. They may not call it a fantasy camp per se, but that’s how I’m thinking of it.

Winners learn the art of creating “Scotland’s quintessential elixir,” says the promotion.


Skills acquired will include: testing the water source, milling, mashing, fermenting and distillation. Not only do you lay down casks for maturation, you also get to nose them to select whisky for bottling your own selection of The Glenrothes, labeled with their own hand-written tasting notes.

I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds better than getting chin music from Nolan Ryan.

Ronnie Cox, The Glenrothes brand heritage director, who will host the event, says the physical level of involvement will be based on winners’ fitness levels. “We’ll fit the tasks to the person. Nobody is going to get crushed by a cask.”

Even better. I won’t even have to pack my back brace.

The contest will start October 15 and winners will be chosen from entrants who visit and tell the judges why they are uniquely qualified to undertake this exciting, immersive task.

If “immersive” is the operative term here, I think my qualifications are obvious, given my personal level of literal immersion in the liquid subject matter.  But I’m not trying to sway the judges—yet.

The contest, which is open to contestants 21-years-old and above from the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Spain and Germany, also intends to award winners with “living the life a whisky man for a man,” adds Cox. Those who attend will stay at Rothes House, the brand’s accommodation for visiting friends, just a short walk from the distillery.  After spending the days learning their craft, they will live as the locals do: fishing in the local streams, dining in the local Highland restaurants or picnicking in the hills surrounding the distillery.

Which all seems idyllic, but what about tasting? There will be plenty of that he allows. Cox, himself, will host a seminar on sampling Glenrothes in a range from the new-make spirits to some of the decades old whiskies in its selection. But tasting won’t be limited to that. Cox refers to “fluid relaxation” that will occur in the evening hours.

And it is here that my I think my qualifications and experience clearly shine. You guys follow your own dreams, but come October 15 I’m firing off some well-chosen words to the “fantasy camp” that speaks to me.

"peter chechotko, b.c. canada. was just gifted a bottle of glenrothes, select reserve. very tasty, esp, with a mild cigar. loving a maduro, though has led me down the burbon trail. so with great interest, i read the manhattan project, in the latest cigar aficionado. wich i believe was authored by yourself. kudos to american burbons. and i am happy to note i have hit on many of the ones you listed, keep up the good work." —September 24, 2011 11:33 AM