We took two whisky loving Canadians on tour in May, starting from their Edinburgh hotel at 8am on Saturday morning. Och another early start, but that’s fine, I am used to it. We drove north over the Forth Road Bridge and on into highland Perthshire, taking our time to Inverness. It’s a wonderfully scenic drive and gave our guests a bit of time to acclimatise to their new environment.
Our first appointment was with a few Dalmore drams. The distillery tour and tasting was happily received by our two whisky fans, even though it was not in production – but this meant photos allowed anywhere! King Alex is my favourite dram there, but as driver … say no more, it hurts!
Lunch was taken at the Storehouse down the road and a meeting with some drams at Glenmorangie came next. I do need to point out, the young guide got a few things wrong – when asked how they clean the stills out, she said they were sent away to be cleaned by power jets, oh dear!
From here we headed back at an easy pace, to Inverness, where we all stayed overnight. I did introduce them to an excellent whisky bar here by the river, a good local pub and another – Irish bar. I left them to enjoy the city while I went away to my hotel and did some work (thanks Liz). Even on tour I cannee get away from work, Liz see’s to that.
Sunday, a day of rest? Don’t think so. Leave Inverness and call in to Culloden Battlefield, walk the moor that Bonnie Prince Charlie and his troops did, discover the “well of the dead”, take time to tour the museum and watch the provocative movie. From here to Clava Cairns, or the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Bulnuaran of Clava – a group of three Bronze Age cairns dating back about 4,000 years. The cemetery was used in two periods. At around 2000 BC a row of large cairns was built, three of which can still be seen today. Cawdor castle, Macbeth was born about 1005. Macbeth was crowned High King of Scots at Scone outside Perth, with his Queen. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth during the spring of 1606. Although the murder of Duncan takes place in Inverness Castle, it is often associated with Cawdor Castle. The truth is, Cawdor Castle was not built until the late 14th century, therefore it is impossible for King Duncan to have lost any blood or Lady Macbeth much sleep in this particular house.
Whisky today? To be sure, we always have excellent drams in the car for our stops during the day, I drove long the Loch Ness to Drumnadrochit and called in at Fiddlers, met John whom I know (owner) told him my guest had a birthday, we (I was a driver again, damn!) enjoyed almost 2 hours of personal attention, many drams including a 40 year old, gifts and presents courtesy of myself and John, she went away happy and – tiddly! Returning a final time to Inverness.
Monday: We left Inverness at 10am, driving south to Tomatin. The Taste of Tomatin tour – an in-depth tour, a tutored nosing and tasting of 6 different whiskies, including two distillery exclusive single cask expressions. I think they enjoyed that! While they toured I enjoyed the “drivers share” a cup of tea and shortcakes, I did enjoy my chat’s with the girls here, especially young Nicole, whose whole family work here, including cousins, uncles, dad, granny used to. 2 hours later they appeared looking really happy.
From Tomatin to Aviemore for lunch picking up Liz at the station. We departed for Glenfarclas Distillery. This is one of the few privately owned distilleries and one of 3 Grant Family distilleries in Speyside. It’s hard for us to say, but it’s one of our favourites, as most of them are! They produce excellent drams and bottles. From here around 35 minutes’ drive to Cardhu where we all fed the hairy coo’s. Another great whisky day ends, guests happy and smiling, Elgin overnight. Liz and myself stayed up in Lossiemouth as usual, we use a nice wee apartment there as a base (office away from home).
Tuesday: We left Elgin at 9.15 heading south to Dufftown, booked on the 10am Balvenie Distillery tour, superb, we know, we have done it many times. The best way to get to know The Balvenie is at the distillery. Tours are very personal each is limited to a maximum of eight people. Bottling your own Balvenie in Warehouse 24 costs £25 (is not a full size bottle, but it is worth it). Only 6 people were on the tour and as usual, it was excellent, thank David (Muir) for your help and see you next month.
We took lunch locally at Glenfiddich Distillery, this allowed our guests to see the fabulous ladies bathrooms at the distillery. The Macallan Distillery called our names at 3pm for the 6 Pillars Tour. After a thorough immersion into the world of The Macallan, they enjoyed an experience/nosing and tasting of Macallan whiskies as well as the rich new make spirit. We did call into a fab whisky bar en route to the hotel, where we met up with our other tour that was in, Derek was driving this one, great – we had everyone in the bar on tour with us, a mcleanscotland bar! Elgin again that evening. Liz and myself enjoyed some great food in Lossie and at the apartment a good selection of drams were consumed.
Wednesday: We departed Elgin at 9am to Dalwhinnie Distillery to call in for drams (tour not included), 6 Dalwhinnie drams including a dram from the £350 bottle, then down to Pitlochry for free time, lunch and Edradour Distillery. We saw Andrew wandering doon so hailed him, all hello’s and intro’s, as he guided us to the shop/bar, then introduced us to several drams (not me!!!) and spent maybe 40 minutes with us, before back to the shop for purchases, an good Edradour for Liz, an Imperial for Gary. Thanks Andrew.
From here we take a scenic route back to Edinburgh, dropping our guests at their Edinburgh hotel. Took Liz home and got back myself into the second half of the Euro Cup Final, Liverpool lost out! Another good whisky tour done and dusted.
Our Canadian friends left with a greater warmth for Scotch in their hearts and plenty of photos to remind them of the fun and knowledge they’d gained along the way.
Written by Paul McLean, www.whiskytours.scot