We made it home from Scotland – full of wonderful memories, new friends, and the crystal clear knowledge that Scotland is our ‘home away from home’…
We really did see a lot of this amazing country – we drove, ferried and walked Scotland for 4 1/2 weeks. We saw grey skies, blue skies, stormy skies and sunny skies – each more magical than the last. The unique regions we visited presented their own flavours and, of course, this carried through to the whiskies.
It may have been that our trip was already half way through and Mackenzie had been an absolute champion traveller so far, but I didn’t feel right insisting on many more distillery visits. So I chose two and rounded out my information gathering with a visit to the Speyside Cooperage Visitor Centre.
- Cardhu is located in the village of Knockando in Speyside. Their claim to fame is that it was the first ever whisky distillery founded by a woman, Helen Cumming, in 1812. Today, Cardhu is a part of Diageo Brands of spirits and produces a great array of single malt whiskies as well as providing the backbone to the Johnnie Walker blend. Our host, Kimberley, led Dave and I through a wonderful tasting. I enjoyed the entire portfolio but I purchased ‘Amber Rock’ with its creamy rich texture and citrus laced vanilla flavours.
- Macallan is located in Easter Elchies village of Aberlour in Speyside. It was in full on construction mode when we visited and their state of the art, world class tasting room is set to open to the public the summer of 2018. Our visit to the current visitor centre was incredibly informative and welcoming. Donna lined up some fantastic whiskies for me to try. I walked away with a huge amount of respect for this company, its product, and its practices. The standout for me was the 15 Year Fine Oak – full of mocha, vanilla, orange peel and violets.
- Speyside Cooperage Visitors Centre was one of the highlights of the trip. This is the only working cooperage in the UK where you can witness the art of coopering. What is a cooper? They are the unsung heroes of the whisky industry who make, by hand, the barrels in which the whisky is poured into to mature. The tour lasted about 1 hour – we saw a short film and got to witness, first-hand, coopers making barrels in the workshop. It is not easy work or for the easily distracted – this trade requires intense skill, focus and speed. These men get paid by the barrel so there wasn’t a lot of chatting on the floor – these talented craftsmen were making their living one barrel at a time.
I may subject you to one more post about Scotland before I return to writing about wine…I have a boatload of respect for the crafting of whisky and everything Scottish so I may just have to start another blog on the subject!
Have a great week.