In May this year I took a blitz road-trip with family through Scotland. 🙂 I call it a Blitztrip because the impressions of the country was so vast and plentiful that I will most definitely need to plan in another trip! This is but a short impression of one of our visits – The Glenfiddich Distillery near Dufftown.
Glenfiddich is a name that needs no introduction – a well known and successful brand of Scottish Whiskey, for the average South African household a luxury, but overall worth its weight in Rands! 🙂 Especially for the Whiskey lovers amongst us that is!
Having visited some South African Wine Estates and Distilleries in the past, I kind of expected a certain standard during the tour and the tastings – with the difference that this is obviously not South Africa but Scotland. I was curious and excited and not just at the prospect of good alcohol at the end of the tour.
First off, let me rave about the estate first – immaculate is a word that best describes the surrounding grounds. Flowers and carefully cut lawns bordered bubbling spring water streams, charming stone built buildings, coupled with the more industrial-looking factory type buildings strewn in-between to hint at the true purpose.
After a brief visit at the tourist shop offering exclusive whiskey blends and Scottish wool scarves we decided on a Whiskey tour. Waiting for the tour to begin we enjoyed the beautiful sunny day we have been blessed with.
In the mean time I discovered something that really spoke to my sentimental side – a beautiful ladies bathroom. Entering this gorgeous room is like being transported to a different time – luxurious liquid soap, hand-cream and soft towels to dry ones hands, surrounded by elegant lighting, a fireplace with two armchairs and … a coat-rack to the side. In a blink of an eye you could time travel to an age where elegant Ladies whisper behind their lace-fans in the corner.
So when the tour started we were escorted in a cinema like room where you get to watch a film – a short introduction into the Glenfiddich world, its history and how it was built. A story of a man called William Grant, who had a vision and built the first building by hand with his family. Shortly afterwards we are randomly divided into two groups and assigned a distillery tour guide – dressed in traditional Scottish dress – a generous Kilt with the traditional checked colours and accessories. It was quite a sight!
Taking us through the whole process, this jovial Scott took us around explaining in detail how Whiskey is made, the process, the pride they take in working for the Grant family, the ‘marrying’ of the different whiskey ages, the angel’s share, the sustainable development of taking an old traditional company into the modern times while still keeping its old-world charm. Charming and with passion he took us through very hot processing rooms, to very dark rooms where barrels are being aged… in decades worth of silence. The smell of whiskey permeated the air, in some areas so intense that one can probably get tipsy just by breathing too deeply – a taste of the angel’s share, the 2% of alcohol that escapes the barrel during the maturation of whiskey.
Ending off the tour we tasted 5 different Whiskey’s of the Glenfiddich range – all different ages, different blends, different intensity. I have certainly discovered my favourite! 🙂
As we left for our next stop in our Scotland tour, it was with a fondness to have experienced a little window into not only a history of Whiskey but of a little bit of proud Scottish heritage. Colour me impressed… tipsy but impressed! 🙂