In part one, I covered the magical and memorable day spent at GlenDronach with Rachel Barrie. Now it’s time to pick up the story again where I left off…
As if a distillery tour, a picnic, a whisky launch, a cocktail masterclass and a super warehouse tasting wasn’t enough, we still had a full evening’s activities planned!
Pre-dinner pink drinks! Everyone in good spirits, with good spirit in our bellies from earlier.
Dinner is served!! I was so engrossed in the conversation, food and whisky that I didn’t get any photos of my plate, but not to worry, there is whisky to follow…
Dinner was interrupted just before dessert, with Rachel leading us outside to the still house – all lit up – for the main reason we were here – the relaunch of the GlenDronach 15yo Revival! The sounds of a saxophone playing carried through the crisp night air, drawing us into the valley. It was a surreal moment – standing in front of the still house in the valley of the brambles, the notes of a saxophone dripping all around us, as Rachel shared why she had asked for a sax player to be at the launch. Compare the lyne arm to the saxophone… Saxophone stills for sure!
Rachel then proceeded to shed some light on the new Revival 15yo, accompanied by the sax player in the background in the still house.
Rachel’s passion and excitement at the relaunch of the Revival was palpable. She should rightly be proud of it – it’s a cracking dram!
A slightly closer bottle shot for all of you.
The still house at night, what a sight!
As we made our way back to the dinner table for dessert, I couldn’t help lingering a little longer, soaking up the view…
What a superb chocolate and whisky pairing!! These were most definitely not your run-of-the-mill chocolates! 4 whiskies – 12/15/18/21yo and 5 chocolates (2 paired with the 21yo).
It’s good to see that green bottle back in the line up isn’t it?
It was an absolute pleasure to listen to Iain Burnett – The Highland Chocolatier – taking us through his thought process when coming up with the chocolate recipes to pair with the Glendronach whiskies. The skill, the ingredients, the techniques… A true master!
After dinner, several of us retired to the lounge, where we cracked open another bottle of the 15yo and spoke and laughed deep into the early hours of the next day. I didn’t want the day to end…
You know how everyone knows about the 1823 Excise Act? Well, how many of you have ever seen the Act? Arthur Motley (from Royal Mile Whiskies) hauled this out for us to drool over – what an amazing piece of literature! He had a great story to go with how he got his hands on this too.
Just when you think you’ve seen and done it all, something like this lands on your lap. Moral of the story: don’t go to bed early folks, or you’ll miss out on all the good stuff!
After 36+ hours without sleep, I allowed myself to catch a quick 3.5 hours of sleep and then it was time to get up and explore the distillery a bit more before everyone woke for breakfast. On such a short trip I was absolutely committed to making sure I crammed in as many experiences as possible.
Crossing over the Dronach Burn again, I wanted to see if I could sneak a peek through the warehouse windows
A nice view back up to Glen House and all the lazy buggers still in bed.
I promise the window was broken when I got there! ?? Look at those sleeping beauties!
Such a picturesque location!
Remember me telling you about Rachel talking about the potential for flooding? Here you can see 2 flood barriers – the one in the foreground and the red one in front of the warehouse door
Looking straight down the burn to the stillhouse.
Jos was asleep in the room at the top there, with a rook keeping guard. The rooks are an integral feature at the distillery. So much so, the GlenDronach 21 year old Parliament takes it’s name from the collective term for rooks, which is “parliament”. Cool hey?
I took a great panoramic 360 degree photo of the distillery courtyard, but can’t upload it here unfortunately! Pity, you would have loved it! 😛 Instead, here’s a photo of the kiln room.
Things are looking up!
That’s one of the washbacks you can see through the door at the top of the stairs.
Mmmmm, breakfast time again! I wish I could share the awesome cereal smell with you. It made me so hungry! I met up with Neil Cameron in the mash room and he took me on a little private tour. Just like it pays to stay up late, it also pays to get up early! 😀
It’s great having the whole stillhouse all to yourself!
The stills at GlenDronach used to be coal fired, now you can see the pipes that take care of heating the stills now. When you get to see all the plumbing connecting all the various components of the distillery together you are reminded that it is essentially a huge factory.
Inside the still…
Neil – master of his domain!
The best poached eggs I’ve ever had! Great fuel for the day ahead…
How do you get to BenRiach? By canoe of course!! Just kidding… 😀 The Brown-Forman folks arranged some time on the River Spey with us with my friend Dave Craig and the chaps from Spirit of the Spey. I had planned to get out onto the river with Dave back in 2013, but it unfortunately didn’t work out, so it was fantastic to be able to get another opportunity!
A mini-break on the shore before heading under the bridge onto our final stop…
Yes, it was as fun as it looks! Safe, fun and professionally run. Highly recommended! I’d love to come back and do one of the 3 day trips that Spirit of the Spey organises – canoe by day, stopping at distilleries on the way, nights at hotels. Sounds magic!
Our efforts on the water were duly rewarded! Stewart Buchanan – Globabl Ambassador for BenRiach – was on hand with a welcoming dram of the BenRiach 10yo. Here we all are, gathered on the Penny Bridge for a tasting of the 10yo.
A fitting setting for our introduction to BenRiach. A Speyside whisky, tasted after being on the Lady Spey herself.
Jos and I grabbing a 2nd pour from Stewart!
Invigorated after our time on the water and a warming dram in our belly, it was time to head onto BenRiach! A short drive later, and here is a hurried snap through the car’s window. My first sighting of the BenRiach Distillery.
My first taste of the (relatively) recently launched BenRiach Temporis 21 year old – a fitting setting!
A great lunch on the malting floors, with some of the old BenRiach staff members from the 50s and 70s. The stories they told us were brilliant!
What a fantastic dram! The 120th anniversary bottling, a 20yo Marsala Hogshead, limited to 290 bottles, available only at the distillery. What a treat! (I’ve already fired a ton of messages to Rachel to release more Marsala Hogshead finishes. They’re superb!)
Jos trying to figure out how to pack one of these in his carry-on luggage 🙂
Welcome to the mash house!
As you can see, the BenRiach underback is a little less glamourous than the one at GlenDronach!
BenRiach do 4 waters in the mashing process as opposed to the more common 3 that you see everywhere else.
“Worts cooler than visiting BenRiach? Nothing!!!” My lame dad joke sunk quicker than a lead balloon… 😉
Aaah, tasty! I could have had a whole glass of this easily.
Stainless steel wash backs vs the wooden ones at GlenDronach. Great to compare the two.
There was a great smell in the still house! I loved watching the new make flow through the spirit safe. BenRiach has a lot of copper carbonate build up in the safe. I’ve only ever seen as much at Springbank.
Jos, the Keeper of the Stills, fiercely guards the liquid sunshine made at BenRiach.
Another opportunity to get a photo with Stewart, in front of the spirit safe.
It’s a kind of magic… Visiting dunnage warehouses is such an awesome experience.
Walking around the warehouse, looking at casks, with a dram of BenRiach 21yo in hand. Priceless!
The reason for our BenRiach visit and tour? The relaunch of the BenRiach 12yo which has also been revived! Formerly a Taiwan exclusive, it now joins the unpeated BR range as a permanent member.
“Three-way sherry cask matured to further enrich BenRiach’s vibrant, fruit-laden style, with multi-layered, sherry cash sweetness” – as per the writing on the tube.
Tasting over, it was time to leave the distillery. I wish we could have explored more and spent more time walking around. I have a perfect picture of GlenDronach distillery in my mind, whereas BenRiach feels a bit more fragmented…
Our accommodation for the night – The Craigellachie Hotel in Cragiellachie and it’s awesome Quaich Bar!
With some downtime on our hands I attempted to rustle up some whisky and people to do an informal tasting on the beach under the Craigellachie Bridge.
Luckily Jos had brought some GlenDronach with him, and I had my Whisky Pigs Glencairns, so we were all good!
Representing the Whisky Pigs in Scotland!
To all those that made this happen – Sean Russell, Rachel Barrie, Brown-Forman, the Spey PR team – and to all our fellow GASsers, you were always with us in spirit! Jos and I salute you!
Standing on the bridge, looking out over the beautiful countryside, with a dram in my hand as the sun slowly dipped below the horizon, I was filled was an amazing sense of peace, contentment and happiness. It was an amazing, albeit short, trip that will live on for a very long time in my mind and my heart.
Thank you for following my journey. I hope to you get to make your own pilgrimage over to bonny Scotland to make some memories of your own.