Paul’s story of the world championship pipe bands weekend, August 2014; PAUL MCLEAN;
I arrived into Glasgow on the Thursday, checked into my hotel in the city and wondered off to take in the sights. A few bands were playing, entertaining the crowds on the main shopping street, some street entertainers and plenty of noise and hubbub! After a wee while (it was warm and sunny) I decided to rest up and do some research (whisky). Research continued at Horton’s bar and Waxy O’Connors before dropping into the Pot Still. Glasgow’s famous Pot Still Pub hosts one of the finest collection of malt whisky in Scotland. Lovers of a good Scotch come from all over the world to this wonderful pub. The attraction? The hundreds (literally) of malt whiskies on display on the impressive gantry. It is not unusual to see Americans, Germans, Swedes, Danes, Japanese and Irish jostling with Glaswegian regulars and Paul at the bar for service from the cheery staff. The Murphy family give everyone a warm welcome, a smile and…if you’re lucky… some recommendations from the gantry. The Pot Still is a popular haunt of journalists, stars of stage and screen such as actress Susannah York, comedian Phil Kay and musician Lloyd Cole have all been spotted enjoying the unique atmosphere of The Pot Still as it’s at the heart of Glasgow’s Theatre Land.
While sipping my first dram, I started chatting to Ken Misch from San Francisco, he is Drum Major with the L.A. Scots pipeband, also a whisky lover. We drammed while we chatted, he knows many of the people in piping and whisky as I do, even Andy Grant! From Port Ellen dram (superb) to a 1954 Mortlach, Glendronach and Glengoyne Teapot, it was a good session – he bailed out after the teapot! I stayed for one more (Irish) then moved back to the hotel for a wee siesta! Met up with Ken again at Waxy’s around 7pm, gave him a bottle of teapot, enjoyed a few more drams, met more of the band, then departed for my hotel. No the end of the story, my hotel room came with a wee extra; a free bar from 5pm – 10.30pm, I made the most of it.
Friday arrived, still sunny – for a while, so wandered along to the Glasgow Green arena, where Grade 1’s were competing in the play offs. Met up with many bands, Ken, some whisky people I know, watched the cooper at work, took in a burger and some sights, many photos taken – see facebook; McLean whisky tours. Tired on my feet, I dondered back to my hotel and the bar! Spoke to my pal Andy Grant (DM with grade 1 band Denny Dunipace) on the phone, he arrived just gone 5pm, we hit the free bar! At around 9.15 we went back to my posh room, where I had more wine, lots of whisky to sample – we did! He went away with a few samples, some of the4 drams he had no heard of before. A rest, then at 10.45 another pal turned up, just home from abroad, working as he does with a whisky company. John arrived with samples – great stuff! A few fast sample drams, then to Waxy’s (again), two drinks here before closing, a long whisky chat and farewells. Back at the hotel, I reckoned I had two more drinks in me, I had one, then fell asleep!
Saturday. The main event! Looked at of the hotel window … rain. At ten o’clock I jumped a taxi to the green, it was still raining. Wandered aboot checking out the bands, so many more people here than yesterday, many thousands more! The bands had many spectators watching, the food outlets were busy, I managed a smoked salmon butty, had a slug from my hip flask; Clynelish 16 year old, spotted big Andy, had a chat, was he ok after last night? Seemed so, started watching the drum majors, a venison burger, it has to be done. Followed by a dram. It was raining. More hiding under tents from the rain/showers, then it rained heavy, real heavy, so took shelter again at the cooper demo. Met up when the rain slowed down with more friends, The New York Metro pipeband, we were supplying their band coach again – we work with pipebands on accommodation and coaching each year. Had a chat with them, Mike, Michael and Dan, sharing a few hip flask drams; 16 yo Clynelish was the favourite.
World Champions 2014; Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band. The band was founded in 1945 in the townland of Drumalig, a few miles from Carryduff on the outskirts of Belfast. The band won the World Championships in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, becoming the first band to win all the Major competitions in a single year more than once.
Each year MCLEANSCOTLAND offer a Pipes Drams tour, to coincide with this huge event; http://www.mcleanscotland.com/worlds2013package.asp another tour will be offered for 2015.
It was a good blend of pipes drams, yet again! Bring on 2015 worlds!
PAUL MCLEAN of http://www.mcleanscotland.com/