Day 6 – Balvenie day
This day had lots of good things to come. The primary visit was Balvenie with a three hour tour starting at 14:00. And before that there was Coleburn. On the way to Coleburn we had a quick stop at Glen Grant, and then to Coleburn. There we got a fabulous tour of their warehouse ending with some nice tasters. Then a quick detour via Glen Grant again, for some quick tasting, and then over to Glenfiddich for some lunch. Yes, only lunch. Had a quick browse thru the shop but did not buy anything. Before going over to Balvenie, we had some time to roll around the countryside and just enjoy the green fields of summery Speyside. Lovely scenery.
We drove past Alt-a-Bhainne for a quick photo or two. Then it was time for the main event, a three hour tour at Balvenie with a tasting afterwards. Balvenie has always been a distillery with whiskies that I have enjoyed but never though much more about it. So I did not really have any expectations about the tour as such. I knew that it was supposed to be good as they take only 8 people per your and only two tours a day. So, off we went into the house of magic. First, Fergus took us to the malting floors, but as they were in their maintenance period so there were no malting ongoing.
We also got to climb up into the kiln and the floors where they dry the malt. Felt a bit weird to walk on the grid floor where you could look down and see the floor far below. Then over to the mash tun room, where there are actually two mash tuns, one for Balvenie and one for Kininvie. The same with the wash backs, one room with wash backs for Balvenie and one room with wash backs for Kininvie. Only the still room only had the stills for Balvenie.
The Kininvie stills are in a separate building where the wash is routed via pipes. After having gone thru the whole process we got a jeep ride over to the cooperage at the site. Balvenie repairs and maintains their casks at their own cooperage. We were able to see how the coopers work, and the speed for replacing a stave in a cask was incredible. The next stop on the tour was the warehouse where you can bottle your own whisky straight from a cask. So of course I had to fill up two small 20cl bottles, one a 13yr first fill sherry one, and the other a 14yr first fill bourbon.
The final part of the tour was then the tasting. We got a superb set of whiskies to taste, the 12 yr double barrel, 12yr single bourbon barrel, 17yr double barrel, 14yr rum cask, 21yr port wood and as a final one a 34yr first fill sherry from the legendary warehouse 24. Incredible good whiskies. The tour at Balvenie was incredible and I really recommend going there if you have the chance. There was still some driving around, having a look at Glentauchers, Strathmill, Auchroisk, and Glen Keith distilleries and then back to the Highlander Inn for the final night in Craigellachie.