Wednesday, Aug 4
Today we will be driving along the River Spey proper and visiting some distilleries that are the areas namesake.
Our first stop is Glenfiddich, a huge and well-known producer. The distillery is very large with very nice grounds and the visitor center is geared toward the tour bus crowd. We decide to skip the tour and just want to taste. This requires some negotiating and we agree to watch to promotional movie before tasting. The film is completely over the top and we have a good laugh about marketing run amuck! We are then given a tasting of three malts with a young lady who pours and gives us a description of each. I think that Glenfiddich is too smooth for my taste, an OK whisky for drinking but not for sipping.
Next up is another well-known producer, Macallan. While the volume produced by Macallan is about the same as Glenfiddich, the two places couldn’t be more different. The distillery is up in the hills above the river with pretty views of the surrounding countryside. Macallan has a much smaller feel and we are the only visitors in the tasting room while we are there. We taste a couple of 10 year olds and a ridiculously sweet liqueur. I am disappointed we can’t taste (or buy) any of their older malts, but so it goes.
We stop at Aberlour, a medium sized producer with a small tasting room. To my surprise we can taste anything we want. I try a cask strength 10 year old with an alcohol content of 57%. This is the typical strength of whiskey when it comes out of the cask after it is finished aging. It is then cut with water to bring the alcohol down to the typical 40%. The alcohol is too strong for my taste, simply overpowering the taste of the scotch itself. I also try a 24 year old, which is quite nice.
After a quick lunch, we go to our last distillery of the day, Glenfarclas. A somewhat smaller distiller, we again skip the tour and just taste. We are given the standard 10 year old, which is a little stronger in taste than what we have had today and is a nice change.
On our way back to Inverness, Andy gives us a drive-by tour of Tomatin. This was originally on our schedule but I dropped it after doing some research. Tomatin was the first distillery to be bought by a Japanese firm who then spent a lot of money expanding its production capacity. Today it is a major producer of whiskeys used in making blends and bottles only a 10 year old under its own name. The place is huge and rather soulless. We’re glad we didn’t stop.
As we are driving back to Inverness the weather begins to improve and is quite nice by the time we get to the B&B. We thank Andy for his driving; which saved an adventure that appeared was not going to go well.
We have another quiet evening as we have a train to catch in the morning.
About the images:
2. Fishing in the River Spey. Look closely to see how much line he has out!
4. A display still outside Glenfarclas.
5. Nighttime in Inverness along the River Ness.