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Haggis, Scotch and Bagpipes at Ballindalloch Castle

As an added bonus to what was already an awesome trip, we were able to visit an honest-to-goodness Scottish castle! Built in 1546Ballindalloch, known affectionately as the Pearl of the North, is one of the more beautiful and romantic-looking castles in Scotland. Having been continuously occupied by the Macpherson-Grant family since its inception, the estate and its grounds are now open to the public as a museum, distillery, public garden, golf course, dog walking park and ranch serving its own renowned Angus beef.


Scotland

* Driving by Lord of the Rings-esque landscapes on the way to the castle. I'm pretty sure that there are orcs / barbarians / vikings hiding in that forest.




Scotland

* The beautiful lawn of the castle grounds complete with sleeping ents and a mysterious mist hiding the horrors found within.


Ballindalloch Castle

* Finally here in front of the castle, channeling my inner Duncan McCleod. Que Highlander theme song!


Ballindalloch Castle Seal

* The castle seal featuring what looks to be Hercules, Thor and a broken arm giving the middle finger to the world. EPIC.


Ballindalloch Castle

* Though the castle was indeed very charmingly impressive, I have to admit that I was expecting a fortress with thick citadel-type walls, a moat and spires, basically something that could defend against an ogre attack.


Bagpipes

* Greeting us was this bagpipe-playing gentleman who ironically used to work for the Chivas Regal distillery. What an awesome life, to go from whiskey distiller to bad ass piper!


Ballindalloch Castle

* Apart from the beautiful scenery, the estate is famous for housing a wonderful collection of 17th century Spanish paintings and...


Ballindalloch Castle Guns

* .. this cool collection of swords and dueling pistols!! Of course, us gents stared at this display for a good minute. If not for the protective glass enclosure, a few of us would have played with these for sure.


Ballindalloch Castle

* Starting the tour of the castle with the caretaker himself showing us around.


Ballindalloch Castle study

* The library and study containing an amazing collection of old books! I make a mental note to have one of these in my future home, albeit with a futuristic twist with less picture frames and more LED monitors.


Ballindalloch Castle

* This place contains a hell of a lot of bedrooms! Which kinda makes sense if you consider that almost 20 generations of the Macpherson-Grant clan have lived here


Ballindalloch Castle

* A round table containing various framed christmas cards, thank you notes and invitations from the British monarchy. Fancy!


Ballindalloch Castle

* Of course, one cannot have a castle and NOT have a ghost as well! In this case, the spectre supposedly haunts this room right here, which oddly enough has a tub in the middle.


Ballindalloch Castle

Paintings of biblical scenes, ancient persons of repute and interest  and the castle's former inhabitants adorn the walls along every hallway.


Ballindalloch Castle

* Without a doubt, my favorite room in the whole house was the nursery. Like a scene out of an 80's horror movie, the items found within induced a maximum level of creepiness without even trying!


Ballindalloch Castle

* Just take a look at those toys!! I'm pretty sure the one on the upper right does ballet twirls when you least expect it, while the one on the lower right spends her time stalking the estate guests. Don't forget the bear on the upper left either giving us a chilling goodbye or a warning to stay away from the room.


Ballindalloch Castle

* More shots of the madness! Need a hug or bedtime story? I'm sure the bears on top will be happy to share their tales of murder and wickedness. Also check out the bear on the lower right, with its soul-less eyes begging the good Lord for deliverance.


Ballindalloch Castle Tower

* What good is a castle without an armory on the topmost room? Check out the epic dueling swords!  

Ballindalloch Castle Dungeon

* Also, it wouldn't be a castle without a DUNGEON! And this ain't no show dungeon, this room was actually used to hold thieves, troublemakers and errant suitors to the lord's daughters!


Ballindalloch Castle

* The photo room which contains various baby strollers, tennis racquets and other personal family effects.


Ballindalloch Castle

* A wall full of medals and insignia collected throughout the centuries by the family. Them Brits sure love getting recognized and honored!


Ballindalloch Castle

* Heading towards the castle's very impressive dining area, we passed by the estate's collection of valuable chinaware. I made a special effort to stay away from this room as to avoid any breakage!


Ballindalloch Castle

Now THAT is how you impress your guests! With ornately decorated walls and ceiling, fresh flowers on the table and Beauty-and-the-Beast candle-holders, this room was screaming with class! I was expecting the utensils to burst out in song in the middle of dinner.


Quaich

* What better way to enjoy one's meal than with a shot of Glenlivet right before eating, served in an ancient Scottish drinking cup, the Quaich.


Ballindalloch Castle

* Once again we see the family emblem, gents who I shall refer to as Hercules and Thor, so prominently displayed on top of the fireplace. I once again promptly take down notes for my future home.


Traditional Scottish music

* After dinner and over even more glasses of scotch, we were entertained by a band performing traditional Scottish folk music, which is heavy on violins, guitars and harps.


Ballindalloch Castle

* Making a wrong turn on the way to the restroom, I came across the taxidermy room! Check out the glass display on the right featuring various birds of prey.


Scotch Tasting

* We ended the night at the hotel, where I was happily joined by our Scottish guide (and frequent Manila drinking buddy) Darren in my quest to sample at least a dozen whiskeys from the insanely-stocked hotel bar!


Scotch Tasting

* You know that your whiskey is legit when there are handwritten notes on the label! Ahhh Aberlour single-malt... how I miss thee.


Scotch Tasting

* Cheers to a night of good conversations over good libations!!

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