Down Day Drams

Day off the bike today. Would have been enforced anyway as it’s been teaming down since I woke up. Good then I booked a tour of a whisky distillery for something to do.

When I got there the site is split either side of the A81 which turns out to be quite significant but I’ll explain that in a bit.

Booking in was a breeze, just gave my name at reception and was directed to a meeting room where the tour began. There must have been 30 odd people so they split us into groups.

We had a brief welcome from our guide who explained a little about the history of the distillery. Opened in 1833 and the only distillery that sits across the border of being a Highland and Lowland whisky (the A81 main road). Whiskys are categorised by the region of their distillery. Highland, Lowland, Islay, Campbeltown etc. So Glengoyne Whisky is distilled as a Highland and matured in Lowland territory in their warehouse across the other side of the A81. They produce about 1 million litres a year. Which is a lot but not a lot in the industry. Some bigger distilleries can produce up to 15 million litres a year.

Photography was prohibited for the first part of the tour where they process the malt and dry it and then effectively brew the foundation of beer before it’s distilled. The ‘brew’ takes place in massive vats approx 5.5m tall called wash backs. The ABV at this point is about 8.5% and we were invited to cup the aroma from inside and sniff it. Woof! It was harsh. Definitely smelt like beer though.

From being brewed the beer is distilled in three large copper stills. The first one takes the alcohol to 25% ABV and then the other two run in tandem and do it again taking it to 75%. The heat was immense at the top.

From here we were taken to their Warehouse #1 which had a unique wall of whisky bottles demonstrating the difference in colour gained my maturation and the types of cask used. Each bottle was a year older and darker. The flavour and colour imparted from the casks they were in. There was also a small warehouse with some quite old casks in it.

#funfact: A barrel is not a barrel as we think, it is a size of cask. A barrel is the smallest cask that holds 190 litres. Bigger casks are called a Hogshead and Puncheon which can hold upto 500 litres

From the warehouse we were spirited away to a posh meeting room for a tasting. We got to try the 12yr old and an 18yr old. I was driving so I only had a sip but was given a couple of samples to take with me.

A delicious whisky. Fresh and quite sweet. The 18yr old was the smoother of the two and the one I preferred.

Tour over. I visited the shop. The whisky is described as premium and the prices reflect it. I was interested in the 18yr old but at £68 a bottle I decided it was too premium for me. There was a 50yr old on offer though at a mere £22.5K. The shop was impressive though and on the whole a great way to kill a couple of hours on a miserable day. I learned something too.

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