Pretty much everyday of my working life, someone will ask me ‘what is your favourite distillery to visit?’. This question is normally answered with the story of a drunken Uni bus trip (I was not driving. Our bus driver was sober) around 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) was an excellent experience. Their distillery goes the extra mile in terms of education and offers different dimensions to the normal distillery visit format (smuggler’s walking tour as an example). At this moment, the person looks downcast ‘I am based in Edinburgh/Glasgow, and I don’t have my own transport’
The distillery I always recommend is Glengoyne. This recommendation was based on a leaflet filled with promising experiences, beautiful scenery and lots of enticing drams. I had to go and check it out for myself!
Team Whisky departed from St Andrews bus station, Edinburgh, at 08.45 am. Well, that was the plan, but everyone was late, so call it 9.15 am. Mr Tickle (Guest Blogger: Andy), Maverick (Michael), Turbo (Jason T) and Big Daddy (Me). Yes we had come up with nick names, and there is a story behind each name (get me drunk and I will elaborate). Mock all you want! We got to Buchanan bus station, Glasgow, at 10.30am. Had some breakfast and caught the bus at 5 past 11 to arrive, outside Glengoyne, at Midday. Simples!
We arrived at the Distillery just in time for the tour. Glengoyne have a period every summer where they are not producing, which to everyone else on the tour was a bit of a disappointment, as they couldn’t see the magic Amber liquid being made. To us, it was great, because we could see into every piece of equipment (Whisky geeks!). The tour was good and the drams were enjoyable. We got to taste the 10 to begin with, followed by the 17 as an apology for the equipment not being on and the 21 just because we mooched around the shop long enough. Excellent Scottish Hospitality! I enjoyed the tour, but, if I had one piece of advice, it would be to cut down the information about ownership at the start. I would say something like: ‘ Glengoyne is one of the few Scottish owned distilleries left, the others are owned by different Worldwide companies’ I would try to avoid going into detail, as the world of business and whisky ownership is very changeable.
Joe (retired technician for Diageo and whisky consultant) was on site to conduct our blending session. The Master Blending session is one of the options you can take at the end of the standard tour. This costs £30. For this price, you get given 6 single malts and 2 grain whiskies. Joe gives you some background on Blending and then off you go! First you select your Grain Whiskies (I mostly used Invergordon, very sweet) then you nose your single malts and start adding them to your recipe. The suggested way to make a Blend is to create a base with milder flavours, then add your favourite flavours at the end, to give the blend direction. It was an awesome experience!
The Blending Competition
As lads, we are pretty competitive. We all thought our Blend was the best blend ever made. Richard Paterson eat your heart out! To prove which is the best blend, we are going to conduct a blind tasting of each of our blends with some of our work colleagues being the judges. Sadly my blend will not be taking part, as I lost it on the rather large night out we had that night. Doh! The blend tasting will be conducted and written about (as soon as we get it organised. Pretty unorganised bunch at times)
After saying out good-bye’s, we wandered down to the local pub. As I was walking away from the distillery, I realised that this was the best setting for a distillery. Just at the foot of a big hill, beside a loch and on the beginning of the west highland way. Beautiful.
We sat in the beer garden of the local pub, sun beating down, very large meals and a couple of very cold, frothy lagers. The perfect end to our Glengoyne Experience (I won’t go into the subsequent night out in Glasgow and Edinburgh)
Go to Glengoyne! The tour is excellent, the add-ons are brilliant and the whole visitor experience is well thought out. An authentic and worthwhile experience.
Check out their website, tour options and directions to the distillery here: