The Glenfiddich Distillery and Aberlour Distillery Tour

Last Sunday I decided it was time to escape the city limits and go where the views are breathtaking and the air is smattered with the remnants of the Angel’s Share…yes I was heading to a couple of Speyside distilleries…

On the way there was a reminder of a distillery I want to visit again this year, The GlenDronach. A definite must redo visit.

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What a gorgeous day as the first view of Ben Rinnes welcomed us to Moray (there’s a signpost.) Clear views and hopes of some delicious discoveries filled my mind.

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So the next stop was going to be The Glenfiddich for lunch. If you haven’t been for a tour, or even popping in for lunch. Then it’s a must do. You’ll enjoy the tour and a wee treat in the shop or the Malt Barn restaurant which also has a fine selection of drams on offer. As well as a delicious selection of food. I had already decided what to have, the Cullen Skink and as always it was superb!

After a quick browse round the distillery shop – accompanied by willpower it was time to head off to the Aberlour distillery.

Emma the guide gave us a very interesting and informative tour of the distillery and told us of its wonderful history and not only that but of the village itself. I was pleased to see that I wasn’t the only thing from Middlesbrough as I looked at the steel beams in the dunnage warehouse (lol.)

We had a fab tasting at the end which included the new make spirit at 63.5 abv. This would help clear anyone’s sinuses. It was nice trying the A’bunadh again but I have to say the winner for me was this and yes I’ve taken a bottle home 🙂

If Someone Had Told Me….

back in January 2016 year that I’d be off on my travels sampling whiskies and blogging I’d have laughed.

But here I am and yes I’m doing that.

Someone asked the question of what were memorable drams of 2016 and it made me think, because there have been a few I have sampled, more to come (oh hell yeah) and some I just wish I could get my eager lips and hands on…. And what else has been happening?

New Year 2016 and I was seeing it in with a small bottle of Moët, and then me and the Bruichladdich Organic Scottish Barley sat and had a little think about things.

During the year I have had the absolute pleasure of visiting some truly wonderful distilleries – Glenfarclas being top of the list, a warm welcome and some great humour, free sweeties and a kind handshake.

This was / is closely followed by Glen Moray, that was really interesting and informative, again with down to earth people ((and a couple of additional samples purely by accident – a good oops!) and the rather happy older lady on the tour, we even shared a taxi afterwards)) and yes I will go back there too. This is what makes it all the more special I feel, that when you are on a tour that you feel like you are wanted there. Whether the distillery is in production or not!

Benromach was very interesting, being there while the malt was being delivered and seeing some casks being filled. Then Glen Garioch, Glenfiddich, The Edradour, Cardhu, Royal Lochnagar, The Glenlivet and last and by no means least the Lakes Distillery.

Then the two Whisky Lounge festivals I have been to, namely York and Birmingham. It was all a bit “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” to get there, but I got there and learnt that you can attend such events and a) not get absolutely ratted b) sample some absolutely wonderful whiskies c) meet some lovely people, d) don’t panic if the train home is delayed – full fare refunds equal funds for future events 😉 – Brum was the most daunting as I had never been there before (big city) apart from passing through it once on a coach. But I survived on some new discoveries, hearty conversation, oddly enough a couple of hugs and forehead kisses and a lovely discount on a whisky tumbler silver cup… (a kind offer from the maker.) York was the more memorable though as it was my first time (the featured image is the view over the race course from the Ebor stand at the end of the day.)

Then some tastings with the lovely Dram Team – great banter, great company and a few absolute delights amongst the samples. I have also been lucky enough to have been chosen by the Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire to sample the Rebel Yell bourbons, and I hope for some more opportunities in the future.

So my memorable whiskies of 2016…

Murray McDavid – Mortlach 21 year old – this had me saying “oh hello…” yes it had me lost for words, taking me somewhere nice where I didn’t want to come back from. It was so beautifully rich and inviting.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company – Tobermory 21 year old (cask strength) – “someone cupping your cheeks while giving you a gentle kiss”. Cocoa butter and milky bar followed by warm spices and chocolate on the palate, warming and oaky.

Benrinnes 23 year old sherry cask – a beautifully heavily sherried SMW, so full of flavour and warmth. Another delight!

Glen Moray 1994 – Sat in a cottage in the Lakes on a cold October evening in front of a fire I had this sample…a beautifully rich and delightful dram. The succulent sherry on the nose, a hint of tobacco and invitingly decadent. And then that palate which you simply have to savour…whilst smiling.

All in all a wonderful mixture of memories, and thanks to all of you that were a part of this year.

SS

Royal Lochnagar Visit

Today I visited the Royal Lochnagar distillery which is located very near to Balmoral Castle on Royal Deeside.

It was a bright but cold November morning, so what better to do then visit a distillery for a little tour and a warming sample or two…?

The distillery has been in the area since 1845. This was the “new” one having previously burned down in 1824 and 1841. It gained its Royal warrant after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were invited to visit. At this point it became Royal Lochnagar.

It is a lovely wee place and the tour was informative and interesting, the group were allowed a sample of their own malt to try against a sample of some which would become Talisker. The smokiness of the peated malt was clearly discernible on the tongue.

Unfortunately I was unable to take any photographs but there was an opportunity to nose some of the casks, sherry finish, a bourbon finish and also a cask with Lagavulin, sweet yet smoky and the hint of TCP.

Back in the visitor centre we were all five a sample of the 12 year old and the distilleries own bottling. Apple and vanilla on the nose with spices too, I found the limited release slightly smoother however.

Glenfiddich Visit

I had passed this distillery many a time on travels over the years but this time it was a chance to go in and visit.

Tickets bought we went into watch the introductory film before commencing the tour itself.

A young lady took us on the tour. I guess what strikes you is the scale of operation, this is a large distillery. This was my late Father’s favourite distillery, one he hadn’t visited. The only one we visited together was Highland Park (and I admired his ability to receive a couple of additional samples.)

It was nice seeing the fallen angels (nothing wrong with that) in the warehouse…

We were then treated to some samples, we tried the 12, the Original, the 15 Solera reserve and the 18 Small Batch Reserve. I have to say I think the 15 and 18 went down well that day.

Definitely a distillery I want to visit again…

Lakes Distillery

I recently visited this distillery which is located next to Bassenthwaite Lake, in the Lake District National Park.

This, if you didn’t know is a new distillery which ran its first spirit on 16th December 2014 and officially opened that year.

The tour itself costs £12.50 (billy no mates here went alone, but a voucher can be used with another grown up to gain entry for £6.25.)

Personally I thought this was quite hefty, especially to a new one looking to attract visitors to their venture.

You are greeted at the distillery by magnificent iron gates which have been designed by a local craftsman. These depict malt, barley and elements of the ingredients used in gin. The distillery itself was a former Victorian cattle farm. Throughout the building you will find quatrefoils (four overlapping circles) with the secular meaning “faith, hope, luck and love” (which I think is rather nice) and which they now use as part of their branding. Oh and don’t forget to go and look at the alpacas.

We were taken upstairs (by tour guide Alan) and shown a flyover video of the history of the distillery from its water source, Sprinkling Tarn in Borrowdale. The journey sees you passing through all the way to Workington. I’m hoping they edit the video as it is quite nausea inducing. If you’ve been you’ll understand, if you’re going, you’ve been forewarned. Aside from the history of the area and building, it was interesting as it covered most of the areas where I have walked / climbed my 25 fells.

We were taken through the distillation process before embarking on the tour. It’s a tiny distillery and all brand spanking new. It kind of felt as if it were lacking the history “romance” of some of the other tours I’ve been on, but with age comes experience…. and theirs will hopefully age well.

In the warehouse we were shown the barrels quietly resting. There were a lot of the Founders’ Club casks and it will be interesting to hear what they are like in future times, and I hope Cdr. James Bond 007 likes his. Sadly we were unable to take any photos on the tour, so no proof. You’ll all have to believe me!

Back in the visitor centre once more, we were given our sample. We tried the One, this is a blend of four whiskies from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We also tried the distillery’s own vodka – okay and quite inoffensive (not a vodka drinker) and their gin. Having had a sip of the gin previously and trying it again, it is definitely very fragrant and I can’t quite say it suits my palate, however the lady next to me was lapping it up. I actually just bumped into the same couple again in a different village. It was nice to have a brief chat, they asked my thoughts, and I theirs.

Lastly as the group was small (five of us) we were also given the the One which had been finished in an Oloroso cask for 12 months, this was lovely and smooth and you can taste the sherry, it was rather nice. And also the one finished in a Tawny Port cask. This was a lovely colour with a fine nose, the palate was very smooth.

Their first bottling of their legally named “whisky” will come of age in 2018, so we shall see…. I can see this being a “boutique” distillery. I can’t fully explain why. It’s just a feeling I have.

The Edradour

The 12th of August “The Glorious Twelfth” saw me visiting this distillery which is located just outside Pitlochry in Perthshire.

Edradour is”world renowned as the smallest traditional distillery in Scotland and arguably the most unique. Dating back to 1825, Edradour, stands alone as the last stronghold of handmade single malt whisky from a farm distillery still in production today”.

I had previously been past this distillery, but unbeknownst to me it was closed. This time however on a grey day, it was open.

Tickets in hand we awaited the tour starting by waiting in the bar, we were then taken to the old Malt Barn to be shown an introductory film and receive our samples. They give samples at the start so that they can lead you through the process knowing what you’ve tried… Ian the guide gave us a rather animated talk and after slamming his hand on the lintel above the window several times, said “never, never put coke in your whisky”. However, I noticed people had added water to their cream liqueur. Feel he might need to add guidance on that. I tried the Ballechin which is a 10 year old, the nose was quite grassy but obviously smoky. The palate was smoky, with chocolate and hints of oak, with a nice finish. You will probably see me say this again, but I am trying to sample un-peated whiskies as there are many more expressions to try against the ones I am used to drinking. I also tried their liqueur, which was obviously creamy and nice.

On the way up to the warehouses it was pointed out to us that just through the trees across the stream that they are constructing a more or less mirror image of the distillery thus doubling its size. This includes having the current equipment replicated to ensure the continuity of standards and tastes in their whiskies.

The tour finished with us going back to the tasting bar. There I tried one of the Signatory whiskies – Auchentoshan 1999, bourbon barrel 15 year old, and then as that was served in a chipped glass I was offered another as an apology and was given a Ballechin 13 year old which was port cask matured. This had a fruity inviting nose, the palate was a wallop of smoke but smooth, it was very warming with a nice finish. But again peated.

Definitely worth a visit.

Benromach Visit

My other Speyside visit on the 23rd September was to the Benromach Distillery which is in Forres.

Upon arriving it seemed as if I was the only person on the tour and I was assured (by a chap called Brian, who took the time to speak to me) that I would have some eye candy to show me round, this in the shape of young Seb. However, just as I had finished watching the introductory video we were joined by a couple from Chester who were about to embark on their first distillery tour.

We left the visitor centre and headed out, we were greeted by a truck delivering the latest consignment of malt to which we were offered to take a handful to smell as it was going into the store. Unfortunately there were not too many opportunities to take photographs on the tour. Once we were at the spirit safe we were shown bottled samples of the low wines and the spirits of which we were given a drop of the heart to rub in our hands to sample the aroma, and to have “clean hands”.

From here we went on to the filling room where we were just in time to see some casks being filled, so the offer of placing my finger into the flow and licking it to taste the whisky was a must!

Upon the return to the visitors centre I sampled the Benromach Organic Single Malt, this was a rather lovely whisky, tastes of pepper and sweet fruits with banana.