Guest blog #3: Northern Highlands
Highlands and Western Coastal distilleries are all unique. Pulteney Distillery (stills on top left) on the northwest coast is almost as isolated as those of Orkney – You really want to get there to visit and you won’t be disappointed. Situated in the middle of Wick, you can see how the distillery grew around the fishing industry and the town, it has a unique feel. Inver House has reinvested in both Pulteney and Balblair as key single malt products; you can see it in the growth of the 12, 17 and 21 YO Pulteney bottlings. The visitor’s center here is beautiful and they also have the opportunity to bottle your own 13 or 19 YO Pulteney on site. The 19 YO has a lot of peat influence. Rumor has it that it was aged in an Islay cask, if you get a chance you have to try it!
Our only Diageo distillery on this trip was Clynelish. Diageo runs its distillery tours in a very safe and modern way. Tours are nice, but carefully scripted and you will not find much flexibility in how they approach them (don’t wander off or you will get in trouble!). They have a couple of distillery-only bottles you can purchase which is true of a number of Diageo distilleries. We tasted the Cask Strength one here and it was excellent. We also got to head down to Brora across the road and it was like going back in time, the stills and spirit safe are still in place. Even the filling station includes a cask of 1983 Brora just sitting there like it was just ready to be filled. We really miss Brora.
Finally we visited both Glenmorangie and Dalmore. It’s my fourth trip to Glenmorangie and it is just a terrific place. Their still room (left) is truly something to behold, cue heavenly music here… They have somehow fit in four more stills in the last year. They also have a wonderful visitor’s center and tasting room. Seems that there is always a rare and tasty Glenmorangie on hand, Annette treats us well! Don’t miss this one.
Dalmore has also greatly expanded their visitor’s area and have distillery only bottlings available for purchase. They also have one of the most unique still rooms in the industry, water jackets anyone? – Another must see. Richard Paterson caught up with us there and autographed bottling of their new Mackenzie bottle for everyone who purchased one! — B. J. Reed