It’s that time again for Paul & Ingvar lapping up distilleries – March 2022 saw the pair travel around Scotland, taking in distilleries as usual. Ingvar used this tour to research for the MALT WHISKY YEARBOOK next year’s issue. As per usual we get only the best introductions, with managers hosting the no holds barred visits!
This March, Ingvar arrived in the evening into Aberdeen, we had a catch up and of course a drink. It all started next morning; first stop Glengarioch, havn’ee been there in a while, they have some new features now, well worth seeing. Ardmore, was next, in the rain! GlenDronach came next, I like going here, one of my favourites, I love the bar and tasting room, as per usual I was given the drivers share; a pot of tea. Looking forward to going back soon. Final of the day – Knockdhu another favourite of mine, Gordon was just Gordon, one of the nicest people in whisky! The day ended with an overnight stay in Elgin.
Next day we met up with Boa at Glenburgie, never been before although I’ve met himself when he was at Strathisla. Big distillery this, enjoyed it. Benromach followed, sat this one out in the office, been there done that one. Royal Brackla, no the friendliest but a big place in a nice location. We were by now staying in Dornoch, I know Eric at the Eagle hotel he kindly gave us a private tasting of five of his own label bottles, good start as we were here four nights. After breakfast we started again – early! Brora with Jackie Robertson, lovely lady, met her when she was at Talisker. What a great distillery this is now almost functional again, this will become one of my favourites. Clynelish next, sat out the tour, legs gave up after Brora! The bar and tasting areas were superb as was the new shop, will be back there soon. We drove down to see John at Balblair, I have too many favourites, this being another, we sat in his office, Ingvar with a few drams, John and myself with a green tea! A big one next Teaninich I have a dyslexia problem with this, cannee pronounce it! Big cold place, been shut down for a good while. Back to Dornoch. The Saturday saw us away to Glenmorangie, again I sat this out, as maybe Ingvar would nee see all if I was there? It worked, he got to see the light house, all the way up to the top, an experimental distillery this, watch this space. What to do the remainder of the day? Nigg Old Church can trace its’ origins back to 1296 and the present structure was built in 1626. It contains the internationally renowned Nigg Pictish Cross-Slab, recently re-displayed. Here John of Dunbretan, swore loyalty to King Edward of England. At the centre of Scotland’s only Pictish Monastic National Monument, the Museum at Tarbat unravels some of the mysteries of the Picts. Lunch was very nice at Portmahomack. Return to Dornoch, we did try a few drams here and there, Ingvar fell in love – with a dug!
Sunday saw us drive into the hills to find Sandy at Ardross, money has been spent here and it shows, this will be closed to the public, a shame as it looks very good, an old farm steading type of set up, a million litre capacity, known Sandy from Spey days. He’s no changed! We enjoyed it here, easier to find our way out than in! A phone call alerted us to a new distillery, one we had both heard of years back but now Ingvar was on the trail; Toulvaddie, a wee place not quite up and running yet, wee stills and a target of 50,000 litres, this is set on an old airfield, surrounded by coo’s, sheep and new Glenmorangie warehouse being built, oh aye, and a bottling plant. Near the village of Fearne not far from Nigg. Final night Dornoch.
After breakfast we set out for Dalmore, another one closed to the public for ages. Let Ingvar loose and I stayed and looked at the oil rigs and ducks, saw barrels loaded onto a truck, destined for where? He must have had a few drams, he was away 2.5 hours! A wee drive along to Glen Ord another under refurb just now but still doing tours, even though they moved the shop and reduced size. A nice sunny day, two good visits. Off we went to Inverness, checked in to the hotel, that was funny; arranged to meet in the bar, I was doon first, reception lady came up to me, “are you the friend of the famous whisky author?” I smiled and said aye, “oh do you think he would pose for a photo? One of our barmen has all his books and is a fan!” How could you say no? I told Ingvar and he didnee believe me. Same lady then told me not to pay for car park as it was on the house and she gave me two huge bars of chocolate, we shall go there again! Sure enough Ingvar chatted to the barman Stewart and had pix taken. We then met up with my pal and driver Andy, all away for dinner. In the same restaurant were two guests on tour, Andy driving, they too were pleased to meet Ingvar; Mr Yang and son, avid whisky lovers. A good day and night.
The trip was almost at an end, fae Schneckie we drove to Tomatin, met up with another really nice whisky man, Graham Eunson, knew him fae Glenglassaugh days, good chat before Ingvar went on a wander with him. Was just about to give Ingvar a reminder to go, where they appeared out of the mist! There are plans afoot here for some changes, more when you come on tour with us! A couple of hours later we were enjoying lunch – at Glenturret, boy! The new restaurant is a 5 star thing of beauty, new owners – Lalique Crystal, the Swiss company, everywhere it shows, from the restaurant, to the Glen Turret bottles. A grand end to the tour, we then drove to Edinburgh, where Ingvar was staying his final night. Bade him farewell, “see you again in May!”
Another totally enjoyable trip with Ingvar, we have been doing these annually for many years now, after meeting in Finland at a whisky festival, where we shared a table! As the saying goes He will be back!