Mark (mhaithaca) wrote in scotlandtravel,

4/9: More Distilleries

We got a relatively early start, planning to visit a couple of distilleries, as well as one of the castles Sandy had recommended. Dunottar, on the coastal route to Dundee, seemed as though it would be easy to get to.

We headed first to Glenfiddich, which the guidebooks said opened at 9:30. We arrived just at 9:30, and the signs agreed with that time. We walked in the front door of the visitor center, found no one, and after a few minutes, wandered around a little. We found some folks in what turned out to be the tasting room, but they exclaimed that we shouldn't be there, and we should wait outside until it was time to open and they'd come unlocked the doors.

I was a bit put off by this, as a) it was time to open, and b) the door had been unlocked! We certainly hadn't broken in! So we wandered outside again, and waited a few minutes until someone came and "unlocked" the door. She told us they'd wait to start the video and tour until there were more people. How long, we wondered, would we have to wait if no one else arrived? I suppose it was about 15 more minutes before another group arrived, and they deigned to begin our visit. The institutional arrogance at Glenfiddich (noticeable as well in the video they showed) was very disappointing. They make a big deal of being the world's best-selling single malt whisky, but Budweiser is probably the world's best-selling beer, and is nothing to be snobbish about.

Anyway, we had a decent tour, and learned quite a bit about Glenfiddich's whiskies. We also got to taste a couple of variants in the tasting room; we were limited to one choice each, but sharing these worked. Over in the gift shop, the very chatty lady running the register (who visits Florida just about every year) helped us past our aversion to buying things we'd been unable to taste. The Solera Reserve 15 year, and Havana Reserve 21 year, seemed clearly worth buying. Having gotten everything home and tasted it all, those two are definitely high on both Denise's list of favourites, and mine. The Havana Reserve is their fantastic 21 year old whisky, which has been finished in rum casks imported from Cuba. (Most whisky is matured in American bourbon casks or Spanish sherry casks.)

We then moved on to the Glenlivet, which makes the best known single malt whisky. (This seems to be a better distinction to get excited about.) Our tour guide turned out to have been with Glenfarclas for years, but their decision to not hire their seasonal tour guides this year left her out of work.

The Glenlivet was where Denise bought her most expensive bottle of whisky, a $200 bottle of 30-year whisky finished in American oak casks.

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