Guest blog #4: Speyside Part 1 (Tormore, Glenlivet, and Aberlour)
We had several great days in Speyside which everyone knows is the heart of whisky country. One day focused primarily on Chivas distilleries – Tormore, Glenlivet and Aberlour. Again our ambassador extraordinaire Ian provided on-site guidance. Tormore, like Scapa is not open to the public so it was a privilege to get to see it in person. (Gang on left.) If you’ve been through Speyside, you’ll remember it as the distillery with the still-shaped topiaries out front. This whisky is hard to find since almost 100 percent goes to blends. The pot stills have purifiers and much has remained unchanged since it was built in 1958. Still, in can produce over 3 million liters when in full production. Ian took us on a walk up to the water source, The Achwochkie Burn, where he generously warmed us with some cask-strength drams. Even if you don’t get to experience a tour of Tormore, the burn is a place you must stop, although it’s a bit of a jaunt behind the distillery.
Everyone knows The Glenlivet whisky. The visitor’s center is gorgeous too with a signature floor to ceiling swirling DNA double-helix style cascade of whisky bottles! (See left.) The center has expanded substantially in the past couple of years to include a wonderful self-guided tour of the history of what is arguably the first legal distillery in Scotland. The stillroom is unique with huge still with beautiful swan like lyne arms. Definitely worth the visit to where the most popular single malt in the US is lovingly made.
After a lovely lunch at the Mash Tun, we toured Aberlour, among the most beautiful distilleries in Scotland. Our guide on the tour was Dennis, who, we all realized, is a repressed comedian. He knows Aberlour inside and out, and without a doubt provided the most entertaining tour of the trip. Getting to the tasting room was the highlight, here Dennis regaled us with jokes while sampling of several Aberlour expressions. The tasting room is unique in that you basically taste in a sealed part of the bonded warehouse! Dennis noted the 18 YO to him was almost orgasmic! You can bottle your own cask strength whisky (either sherry or bourbon oak) for 60 pounds! Many of us chose the bourbon since finding a bourbon cask strength Aberlour is nearly impossible. This would be a wonderful first tour for someone who had not been to Scotland before, gorgeous setting, unique whiskies to try and great guides along the way! (Gang on left.) — B. J. Reed