The Napier Whisky Trip (Bladnoch)

Where to start? It was an interesting trip!

Before starting the Blog with Lucas, I had joined the Edinburgh Napier University Whisky Society. They run several trips to different distilleries throughout the year as well as a tasting every 2 weeks. This was the first trip I had been to. The plan: to go to Bladnoch distillery and on the way back go to the Burns Heritage Park to celebrate the Anniversary of Rabbie Burns birth.

Bladnoch Distillery is the furthest southerly distillery in Scotland and has been distilling since 1817. It produces small batches of single malt that tends to be quite rare. It is located near Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway. We did not make it to Bladnoch, and this is where the story begins….

Going to Bladnoch….nearly

We got going on the bus at about 9am. Everyone pulled out hip flasks and the Society had provided several bottles of whisky, a proper Whisky Trip! Someone handed me a Glengoyne Cask Strength. I sipped my dram slowly; I knew that drinking on a bus at 9 am required a careful approach. Not everyone was so careful! Unfortunately a mixture of downing the first whisky of the day, a hangover and the windey roads meant one of our crowd was struggling. We stopped the bus to consider the situation. We decided to take our man back to Edinburgh (he had gone a green colour by this point) drop him off and head up to another distillery. From then on, the Glengoyne Cask strength was known as the ‘Widow Maker’

A couple of us got dropped off in Morningside to collect some more whisky (it sounds crazy, it was only 10.30am at that point) from the Society Treasurer’s flat. While we were up at his place, unbeknown to us, the bus drove off to drop off our sick mate. Now imagine the situation, we leave the flat (after collecting the whisky and stealing some fruit) and we see the bus (or what we thought was the bus) slowly driving away. Each of us carrying a bottle of Whisky, we sprint up Morningside road trying to catch the bus. The bus starts accelerating and drives away. It was only then that we realised that this was not our bus, and that whoever was in that bus must be very worried about whisky mad lunatics terrorising Morningside Road!

After finally meeting up with the bus again, we had to decide where to go. This is the great thing about Scotland; you can just look at a map, and pick a distillery you fancy. A lot are within driving distance of Edinburgh. We decided to head up to Dalwhinnie Distillery.

Dalwhinnie

Between Perth and Inverness, Dalwhinnie is one of the highest distilleries in the country and is in a beautiful setting. Surrounded by snow-covered mountains, it’s the perfect place to have snow ball fight and that was our plan. But we were running late. James (Society secretary) arranged a distillery tour, but the last one was at 1pm. After Stuart (Society President) gave us a tour around Perth, pointing out major landmarks like his old house and favourite pizza place, we made our way to Dalwhinnie. We were late and Chris (not me, the society treasurer) kind of made up a tour. We had a thoroughly enjoyable dram of Dalwhinnie, a snowball fight and then tucked into haggis, neeps and tattie packed lunches (provided by Stuart) so it was a good visit!

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Jumping back into the Bus, we had to decide where to go next. While we were discussing it, Stuart offered me a drink from his hip flask. Strathisla 30! It’s absolutely gorgeous. Smoky, hints of caramel, marzipan and a bit of fruit. Then Nick (Potential society candidate for the future) offered me his hipflask. Ardbeg 15 from an independent bottler! I was being spoiled for choice!

We decided to head for Blair Athol. It’s not too far from Dalwhinnie, so we thought we might actually make it on a tour (having failed to make it to Bladnoch and Dalwhinnie)

Blair Athol

We got to Blair Athol for the last tour. Blair Athol is one of the main whiskies that make up Bells. I imagine (previously being a tour guide myself) that we were not the easiest group to have. We all have plenty of whisky knowledge and had plenty of whisky in us at the time. It was an interesting tour and our tour guide held his own quite well. It would have been nice to see a bit more of their bonded warehouse, but there were problems with the heating and lighting. We obviously had a dram of Blair Atholl to finish off the tour.

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Blair Athol is released as part of Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range. These are whiskies that are rare, either because they are used for blending or because the distillery only produces small batches. My favourite Flora and Fauna is Benrinnes and I think the best Flora and Fauna to buy now would be Rosebank, because it will be getting rarer and rarer (if you buy whisky for investment, I end up just drinking the stuff myself). I thought the Blair Athol was a good dram, but I would not trust my taste buds and judgement too much at this particular point!

And home, to sleep

As the final whisky of the day, Nick and I bought a small bottle of Lagavulin 16yo. We got a pizza in Stuart’s favourite pizza place in Perth and supped away on the Laga 16. It’s such a smoky and rich whisky, and it had been such a long day… I couldn’t help it and fell asleep.

Chris

Comments

  1. Despite driving, and unforseeable circumstances, I think I can fairly well agree that it was a great day out, and a fine example of spontanaity.

    I’m still amazed at the number of bottles that got polished off on the bus, opened and new. We still have plently of ‘stock’ for the Speyside and Islay trips though – like you wouldn’t believe.

    A great day out, and more to follow…

  2. Nice write-up, and the Strathisla was delicious.
    And I’m sure we’ve all got quite a few tales to share from different parts of the bus… way at the back, me, the Drama society president and a few others were on the Talisker. I can’t even remember how many bottles of the stuff we went through, I just remember the high point of Blair Athol was that we got to replenish our dwindling supplies.

    Roll on the Islay & Speyside trips!

  3. To Stuart: More stock! I am amazed after that trip!

    To Chris P: Talisker, what Talisker? We never saw any Talisker at the front of the bus! :)

  4. [...] the country, visiting Dalwhinnie, nearly making it to Bladnoch (nearly, check out that adventure here) and visiting  Blair Athol. Then I think about it some more, and I say Glenlivet (read about here) [...]

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