A lifelong arachnophobe says he overcame his fears after an unusual whisky tasting, which paired drams with crickets, mealworms, locusts and scorpions.
Scott Begbie, from Aberdeen, was one of three whisky enthusiasts taking part in a special event called “A Pairing With Legs” by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
The society, which describes itself as a global whisky club with “an unconventional approach to whisky tastings”, is based at The Vaults in Leith, Edinburgh.
The first pairing saw mealworms matched with Disco Diva, a 12-year-old whisky from Speyside described as tasting like “an all-singing-and-dancing karaoke of icing sugar-coated biscuits, dried coconut and hot cross buns”.
The second pairing featured locusts paired with Raspberry Fields Forever, a whisky described as having a palate of “creamy custard with juicy raspberry sorbet on apple crumble”.
Smoked crickets were paired with Smokus Fruticosus, a sweet, rich & intensely smoky blended malt featuring whiskies from the islands of Islay and Orkney.
A scorpion was also on offer for participants to pair with a whisky of their choice.
Mr Begbie, who was given the tasting experience as a present for his 60th birthday, said: “I’ve always had a phobia of spiders and creepy crawlies generally, so I was initially pretty nervous.
“Seeing the insects and picking them up was quite tricky at first, but I ended up enjoying it.
“My favourite flavour pairing was the smoked crickets with a blended malt featuring smoky whiskies from Islay and Orkney. That pairing of smoky, salty flavours worked really well.
“The mealworms were crunchy and tasted like Bombay Mix with less spices. The locusts were challenging but they reminded me of Twiglets.
“The scorpion surprised me – it was really good, a bit like a salty pretzel.”
A second “A Pairing With Legs” event is taking place in May with the society collaborating with Dr Vladimir Blagoderov, principal curator of invertebrates at the National Museum of Scotland.
Helen Stewart, head of brand marketing and membership at the society, said: “Whisky and insects? Precisely.
“This type of tasting personifies what the society is all about. Our 40th anniversary year is going to be our most adventurous yet.”