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Whiskey Distillery Tours

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Whiskey Distillery Tours

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:21 pm

I am starting this forum in the hope people that have been might want to give their views on any Distilleries they have visited. May help others wishing to visit.
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Postby johannes » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:26 pm

I was just going to post a question about distilleries.

I'm planning a holiday to Scotland this summer and want to visit a few distilleries but I'm not sure which ones are most worth a visit.

I'd like to confine my travels to either Speyside, Highlands or Islay and include a number of distilleries on the trip. Has anybody got any suggestions about where to go? I'd be looking for the most accessible distillery where you can see what is really going on inside, the most interesting and of course with a shop!

Any suggestions?
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Postby Lawrence » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:31 pm

Aberlour, Ardbeg and Ben Nevis are a good start. The Aberfeldy/Dewars World of Whisky are good also but a bit more 'glam'. The Ardbeg tour has the added advantage of a really good restarant and the Aberlour tour is a great tour with lots of samples and the chance to bottle your own whisky.

There are many, many good tours.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:36 pm

Tullibardine is good as is Dewars World of Whisky.
Avoid Famous Grouse experience - it's nothing to to with whisky but everything to do with advertising a blend. Tacky comes to mind!
Springbank is really good.

Have a look at Tattiehead's tour of Scotland last year on the chat forum (Muckle Flagga to Mull of Galloway - if I remember correctly). He visited a few distilleries - and it's a darn good read.

http://www.whiskymag.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2829
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:56 pm

Auchentoshan

Visited this distillery while on a visit to Glasgow.

This is a small but nice looking distillery. It is very compact and the warehouse is by far the biggest building.


The tour is about 40mins long and is every hour on the hour from 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday.

Cost £3.50 (plus free dram at end)

Tour guides are friendly and mine was very courtious and appeared knowledgeable on matters whisky. She did ask visitors if they knew any better on certian subjects therefore giving the impression that she was willing to learn about other distilleries.

The tour is a tour of the actual working distillery which is more exciting than some mock up or non working distilleries.

The distillery is productively Monday to Thursday only but the results are present on Firday and Saturdays (I visited on Friday).

Tour started with a brief history which was not too drawn out.

Followed by a quick overview of the malting process which is no longer carried out at the distillery.


next we were introduced to the Milling and Mashing area and followed progress of the malt to the Mash Tun where the grist (flour and chaf or mashed malt) was mixed with hot water to form the mash.

The mash was then seperated of liquid and spent grist and the liquid was pumped into the Wash backs.

We then could view all four wash backs and the different stages of fermentation where yeast was added to the wash.

Each days mash had its own wash back and it was obvious how the yeast was working over the difference of days betwwen Mondays batch through to Thursdays batch. Thursdays batch had only just begun it's fermentation stage where mondays batch was well under way. One could actually feel the heat rising from the liquid which was soley down to the fermentation process.

We now have wort which can be considered a beer type liquid at this stage. This was the highlight of the tour as we were given the opertunity to taste the wort.

Strangely though this liquid near resembled cider closer than beer but if you picture a warm mixture of both you get a better picture. not something that I'd make a habit of but well worth the experience.

We next went to the distillation room where 3 copper potstills are standing side by side. Auchentoshan is one of the few Scottish distillerys tripple distilling and probably the only distillery using 3 stills in this way(but don't quote me on that).


And that is the end of the distillation tour.

There then is a quick visit to the warehouse to see the casks in all there glory.

Back to the Distillery shop where you have a choice of a free dram from most of the Distilleries offering bar 3 botttles which can be purchased for £4 a dram after your free dram and all others are £2.

You also get a chance to nose the spirit in it's raw colourless state too and compare to it's finished product state.

Even though this is not one of the more popular Distilleries for it's whisky it is a great tour for the uninitiated or those wishing to get a closer look at a working distillery. Well recomended and great value.
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Postby Mr Ellen » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:06 pm

Cheesez...Now it's really hard to point out just a few distilleries worth a visit. If you're into whisky and interested in how it's being made I think they all are worth exploring. During my journeys in Scotland I have visited around 90 distilleries and I wouldn't like to have missed any of these. Of course, not all of these have guided tours and distillery shops but if you meet the right people and ask the right questions you are certainly welcome to every distillery in Scotland.

If you like Islay Whiskies, then go to Islay, stay in Port Ellen or Bowmore and make the tours of Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin or whatever you prefer.
If you fancy Highland whiskies, Aberlour is a very good place to stay. From here you can make daily excursions to Macallan, Glenfarclas, Aberlour, Craigellachie and lots of other distilleries within the hour.

For me, the best experience have to be the Ardbeg Distillery where the staff is truly outstanding and the restaurant offers the best food on the Isle Of Islay.
Other (in my opinion) VERY good distillery visits have been Glenlivet (thanks to Paula), Glenfarclas, Aberlour, Old Pulteney, Highland Park, Lagavulin, Glen Ord, Talisker and Strathisla.
There is just one distillery which I found to be a disapointment and that was the Macallan. To formal and it didn't make us feel welcome at all.

If you're out for a circus show or the biggest shop then go to the Glenfiddich/Balvenie Distillery where the buses are rolling in like thunder. It's unlikely you'll be the lonely visitor here and the tranquility of the Glenfarclas is very distant from this. I am pretty sure you can buy underwear with the Glenfiddich logos here too....I am sure Mr.T can inform you on that. :lol:

You can also make a combination tour. Visit Glasgow with all it's sightseeing and spend a day at Glengoyne or Auchentoshan, both situated just outside of the City.


There is a book on the subject:
"Visiting Distilleries" by Duncan & Wendy Graham where you can get more information and look deeper into what the different distilleries have to offer.

Cheers
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:35 pm

I cannot recommend Balvenie enough--the most thorough, complete, and intensive tour I've taken, maltings to barrels. Two caveats: It's expensive, £20, but worth it in my book; and they don't do it in the summer, because the maltings aren't operating (too warm).

Speyside is the most accessible area to visit, with scads of distilleries available. The downside of that is that there are a lot of casual tourists, and sometimes the tours reflect that, I think. You have to really want to go to Islay--it's a little hard to get to, and expensive--but it can't be matched for overall distillery experience, and there are very few tourists "just wandering through". I just posted my thoughts on Islay distilleries in another thread.

If you can, stay in Craigellachie in Speyside for the Highlander Inn and the Craigellachie Hotel (with its astonishing bar). I like Port Charlotte in Islay for proximity to the Port Charlotte Hotel, for my money the best pub on the island (although the drams aren't cheap).
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Postby johannes » Tue Mar 28, 2006 9:40 pm

Thanks for the excellent suggestions and answers. I shall use them to plan a holiday sometime in late September when it will at least be cooler and cheaper too. As you point out, many tourists can 'water down' the whole whisky experience (like they do to the drink) and I would be looking to discover an enthusiasts trail of the distilleries rather than one for people who are indifferent to whisky and looking for a day out! Many thanks again for the suggestions so far.

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Postby Elliot » Fri Mar 31, 2006 8:07 am

I've noticed that the large majority of distilleries in Scotland charge for the privilege of a tour. All but one tour in Kentucky is free (you know who you are, Woodford Reserve) and most include a free sample as well. Why do the Scottish distilleries all charge for what is essentially free advertising for their product, and some quite a lot, to boot?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:54 pm

I am glad they charge, and wish they'd charge more. It helps to weed out the casual tourists who know no more about whisky than they do about brain surgery, and don't really care, either. There are plenty of those as it is, and it is a drag on a tour. We all knew nothing once, but people who really aren't interested shouldn't be there.

It is fair to expect that a more expensive tour will be one of the better ones. I cite Balvenie, which cost £20, and was worth every penny.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Mar 31, 2006 5:32 pm

I agree with Mr. T and have no problems with a charge being levied for a good and professional tour.

Even then, many distilleries give you a free dram at the end and some even offer a discount on a full bottle purchase which basically refunds your cost.

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Postby Mr Fjeld » Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:47 pm

I for one don't mind if the visitors centres are part of the "tourist track" . They cannot survive on whisky enthusiasts alone and if I'm not totally wrong some distilleries went from red to black just because of the visitors centres - and that's because of tourists who only wishes to see a distillery and say "yes, I've been to one" . I think whisky tourism is very healthy for both the whisky distilleries and scottish tourism in general. After all, most people arn't anoraks - and there will always be distilleries catering for people like us (I haven't been to Scotland yet) .
Anc concerning the price - I don't really think you get that much for your money - meaning there's money to be made by the distillery.

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Which distillery...tough question

Postby ralfbzdega » Fri Mar 31, 2006 8:42 pm

Well,
this is a very hard question to answer....I have been to many, and so far nothing beats ARDBEG on islay....in general the islay distilleries have a more "private atmoshphere", than most of the Speyside ones.

In terms of value for money....
Macallan has a special tour that costs 15 Pounds, and they always serve superb whisky, e.g. 18, 21, 25 and 30 year olds etc...you get really good value for money....

I also went to Dalmore, before they had a Visitor Centre, and that tour was awesome too...
So i guess you have to decide on a visit to either your favourite dram, or something that you have never tried before

Something in own interest, any chance you guys would like to fill in my survey on distilleries in Speyside....please be so kind
Ralf
[b]http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=592001899168
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Postby Elliot » Sun Apr 02, 2006 6:27 pm

I've had private, in-depth tours of bourbon distilleries where all I had to do is call up and make an appointment. I had the opportunity to speak with many insiders in the distillation process and had a two-hour look into bourbon that most people never see. It didn't cost me a dime. I'll be heading down to Woodford Reserve this week and they only charge $5 US for their in-depth tour, which is separate from the casual "Bourbon Discovery Tour" for the tourists. Where can you get that sort of value in Scotland?
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Tours

Postby Muskrat Portage » Mon Apr 03, 2006 2:59 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:I am glad they charge...helps to weed out the casual tourists who know no more about whisky ... and don't really care, ...it is a drag on a tour. We all knew nothing once, but people who really aren't interested shouldn't be there.

I have to agree that some people are a pain when they aren't interested and should probably be refunded their money so they can go away.
I've not been on a whisky tour but have toured railway shops with neophytes, some who were as Mr. T describes, yet others were almost desperate to learn more and in acquiring a bit more knowledge, have developed a healthy interest in the hobby. The more people who are bitten by the desire for knowledge, the better it is for those who already celebrate an expansive knowledge of their chosen craft. Be it trains, whisky or history we have to nurture the few kindred souls that crave to be where we are now. Musky P.
P.S. I am watching this thread quite closely, as I hope to tour Speyside during the festival with friends in a couple of years.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Apr 03, 2006 5:25 am

Elliot wrote:I've had private, in-depth tours of bourbon distilleries where all I had to do is call up and make an appointment. I had the opportunity to speak with many insiders in the distillation process and had a two-hour look into bourbon that most people never see. It didn't cost me a dime. I'll be heading down to Woodford Reserve this week and they only charge $5 US for their in-depth tour, which is separate from the casual "Bourbon Discovery Tour" for the tourists. Where can you get that sort of value in Scotland?


I am tempted sorely to say that in Scotland you don't have to drink bourbon at the end of the tour.... :roll: But instead I will say only that I suspect the basic zeitgeist is different in each country. From your description, I have to think that the demand for such tours is pretty low. And if a few pounds prevents you from visiting a distillery, you obviously don't want very badly to see it. Seems a shame to begrudge such a small sum after you've come all that way.
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Postby Elliot » Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:32 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:
Elliot wrote:I've had private, in-depth tours of bourbon distilleries where all I had to do is call up and make an appointment. I had the opportunity to speak with many insiders in the distillation process and had a two-hour look into bourbon that most people never see. It didn't cost me a dime. I'll be heading down to Woodford Reserve this week and they only charge $5 US for their in-depth tour, which is separate from the casual "Bourbon Discovery Tour" for the tourists. Where can you get that sort of value in Scotland?


I am tempted sorely to say that in Scotland you don't have to drink bourbon at the end of the tour.... :roll: But instead I will say only that I suspect the basic zeitgeist is different in each country. From your description, I have to think that the demand for such tours is pretty low. And if a few pounds prevents you from visiting a distillery, you obviously don't want very badly to see it. Seems a shame to begrudge such a small sum after you've come all that way.


I suppose that I'm somewhat biased, seeing as "coming all that way" for me is driving three and a half hours. A few pounds is one thing, but 20 quid for Balvenie?! I like Balvenie and their products, but at that price, I could visit a number of other distilleries. If bourbon distilleries charged more (or at all, for that matter), I just probably wouldn't visit as often, though I'd still go. After all, it's been 13 months since I've been to some of the distilleries I'm visiting this week. :)

Oh yes, and refreshingly, I don't have to drink Islay whisky at the end of any of the tours here. :P
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Postby corbuso » Mon Apr 03, 2006 8:46 am

johannes wrote:I was just going to post a question about distilleries.

I'm planning a holiday to Scotland this summer and want to visit a few distilleries but I'm not sure which ones are most worth a visit.

I'd like to confine my travels to either Speyside, Highlands or Islay and include a number of distilleries on the trip. Has anybody got any suggestions about where to go? I'd be looking for the most accessible distillery where you can see what is really going on inside, the most interesting and of course with a shop!

Any suggestions?


If you know in which area you plan to go, it would be quite helpful.
As introductory remark, the quality visit depends on your knowledge about the whisky industry and process and on the tour guide.
The tour guide can have an important impact on the evaluation.

The best tour I have ever had was at the Jura distillery with Willie Tait during the Feis Ile last year. Otherwise, I enjoyed a lot my guided tours at Bruichladdich, Ardbeg, Tobermory, Clynelish, Glenmorangie, Glenfarclas and Aberlour. The least enjoyable tours were at Talisker (staff unpleasant) and Macallan (not allowed to do anything and got very few answers to my questions). I have visited so far more than 30 distilleries and if you want some info about specific distilleries, I might help you.

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Postby zippy » Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:39 pm

I am planning a holiday in Islay, probably this September and I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on the top 3 or 4 distilleries to visit. I'd like to go to all of them ideally but if time is a little tight which ones are recommended? It sounds like Ardbeg is a definite and from what I have heard Bunnahabhain is strictly for the hardcore enthusiast...

On previous trips to Scotland I have been to Talisker and Oban distilleries, plus the museum at Dallas Dhu. Talisker is a magical place and the tour guide was friendly and interesting so that would be my recommendation. Plus Skye is a beautiful island and the walking in the Cuillin is excellent if scary!


any comments?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:49 pm

zippy wrote:It sounds like Ardbeg is a definite and from what I have heard Bunnahabhain is strictly for the hardcore enthusiast...


Has anyone said anything bad about visiting Bunnahabhain? If so, please post me to the juicy gossip.
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Postby Alec » Mon Apr 03, 2006 2:38 pm

hey zippy - I'm going to Skye with my girlfriend this year, hopefully late April or early May. What's the distillery tour like and are they generous? :D
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Postby corbuso » Mon Apr 03, 2006 2:48 pm

Alec wrote:hey zippy - I'm going to Skye with my girlfriend this year, hopefully late April or early May. What's the distillery tour like and are they generous? :D

Normal regular tour. Nothing special and try to avoid to be there too late. The first time I was there (in 2003), they had no ideas about the taste of the talisker 20 and 25 YO. Hope it has improved.

But the place is very nice and carry on the road to Talisker bay. A beautiful place.
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Postby corbuso » Mon Apr 03, 2006 2:57 pm

zippy wrote:I am planning a holiday in Islay, probably this September and I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on the top 3 or 4 distilleries to visit. I'd like to go to all of them ideally but if time is a little tight which ones are recommended? It sounds like Ardbeg is a definite and from what I have heard Bunnahabhain is strictly for the hardcore enthusiast...

any comments?


Top 3 distilleries in Islay?
Would go for Ardbeg & Bruichladdich and Laphroaig. My fourth choice would be Kilchoman.
Bowmore is a beautiful distillery with the nice tour, but too speedy to my taste, therefore I prefer to suggest Laphroaig. Caol Ila is not very interesting, lagavulin is okay and Bunnhabhai not bad. As mentioned earlier, a jump to Jura is worthwile.

For some photographs, you can have a look at my report about Feis Ile 2005.

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Postby zippy » Mon Apr 03, 2006 4:22 pm

Thanks for all the tips. Nothing juicy on Bunna, just I read that it's remote, plus it's probably my least favourite Islay malt (good nonetheless!)

I think the great thing about Talisker is the location. While I was there the 20 y.o. and 25 y.o. were there for nosing. You just get a regular dram of the 10 y.o. plus we managed to get a taste of the 175th Anniversary bottling.

The trip over to Jura is on the cards as well. I am a hillwalking enthusiast as well as whisky drinker so I will try to combine a trip up to the Paps of Jura along with the distillery.

In fact I am now contemplating the Cal Mac Whisky rover ticket (or something like that) to go from Ardrossan to Arran then Arran to the Mull of Kintyre (via Springbank) then over to Islay (& Jura), spending a week to 10 days on the trip.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Apr 03, 2006 5:34 pm

Elliot wrote:Oh yes, and refreshingly, I don't have to drink Islay whisky at the end of any of the tours here. :P


:lol: :lol: :lol:

Elliot, all I will say about Balvenie is that it was £20 well spent, or would have been had they not forgotten to charge me. It is not a tour for the casual tourist. In fact, I'd do it again, and might if a traveling companion wishes to do it. Be thankful that you can get good tours at whiskey distilleries for free; when and if a whole lot of tourists become interested in such, they will no doubt start charging, just as a way of keeping things in control. Supply and demand and all that.

Zippy, very hard to rank Islay tours--I'd put Bruichladdich number one, Ardbeg probably number two, and after that it's a matter of what you are interested in. I do think it's worthwhile to tour a place even if you aren't crazy about the product--I thought Bunnahabhain was excellent, with some very interesting and enlightening samples; and the snide remarks about the Golden Boys on Loch Indaal were amusing, too. Jura is worth the trip, and both times I've been, Michael Heads gave the tour--knowledgeable, amusing, and hospitable. Caol Ila can be a little frustrating as a tour, but if you are prepared for a good blether and are interested in Islay things other than whisky, it's worth the time. Kilchoman is worth a look, as it is certainly different from anything else you've seen. After that, it's largely a matter of what you want to see. Each place is unique (Bowmore and Laphroaig have floor maltings), and it's worth seeing them all if you can, but don't try to cram them in. Leave plenty of time--one in the morning, one in the afternoon, maybe occasionally two in the pm if the schedules are right--and leave the rest for next time. It's good to have a reason to come back, although you don't really need one!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Apr 04, 2006 1:45 pm

Mr TH - thanks for the tip on Balvenie. I wouldn't have thought of it myself because it's not a distillery I know, but have booked on a tour at the end of May. Shall stay the night in Dufftown, and thence on to Pulteney (just because I can). I will spend a couple of nights in Wick and a night at Cape Wrath. Gets me out of the house + a great opportunity to test out my new (actually second hand - or "cherished" as they call it in the showroom) Mini Cooper S.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:16 pm

Nick, you will like the Balvenie tour. They suggest you not drive, and you can walk down from Dufftown in about ten minutes. I spent about three hours there in all, and I was the only one touring--might take longer with more.

I will be very interested to hear what you have to say about Pulteney, as I intend to visit in October. Would you be so kind as to find out whether there are any pubs serving cask ale in Wick? That could be a determining factor in deciding whether to stay the night.

There are some good archeological sites in the area--the one I would classify as can't-miss is the Grey Cairns of Camster. An evocative spot in good weather or bad.

Cape Wrath! Doubt I'll ever get there. Do tell us about it! Are you coming back down the west coast? Highly recommended for the scenery. If you have another night on the way, Ullapool, Gairloch, Torridon, and Plockton are all good places to stay. Can give you a top recommendation in the latter.

Have a great trip and don't forget to write.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Apr 04, 2006 6:53 pm

Thanks for the tips - I shall look out for cask ale in Wick but haven't got high hopes. I am really going for the scenery because I've never been to the far north before. I was planning to come back "diagonally" to Inverness where my uncle stays at the moment.

I was in Ullapool the other week travelling to Stornoway (Isle of Lewis) overland. The scenery to get there from Inverness was stunning, with sunny blue skies but snow picking out the contours of the mountains. The Minch was flat as a pancake both ways, with visibility so good you could see one side from the other. On the way back, the coastguards did a drill by flying their helicopter over the back of the ferry and winching people up and down. Fantastic.

I hope I get the weather for the far north, but I know it is a coin toss.
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Postby ScotchBlog » Sat Apr 08, 2006 4:03 am

Elliot wrote:I suppose that I'm somewhat biased, seeing as "coming all that way" for me is driving three and a half hours. A few pounds is one thing, but 20 quid for Balvenie?! I like Balvenie and their products, but at that price, I could visit a number of other distilleries. If bourbon distilleries charged more (or at all, for that matter), I just probably wouldn't visit as often, though I'd still go. After all, it's been 13 months since I've been to some of the distilleries I'm visiting this week.

I guess I'm spoiled because I never have to pay for tours, but I agree that 20 pounds is a lot of money for a tour - even though I understand that the Balvenie tour is pretty good. I'll likely be taking it at the end of May after I head to Speyside after the Islay festival.

Elliot, I think that for the most part, Scotland is more of a tourist destination - even among non-drinkers, while Bardstown (and environs), may not be a destination for non bourbonites. So charging for tours does double duty of "keeping out the riff-raff" and bringing in some extra cash.

Also many of the distilleries offer free tours for members of their various clubs, so its worth checking out the web sites before planning a trip to Scotland.

Personally I'm looking forward to touring Glenrothes - which isn't open to the public.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Sat Apr 08, 2006 9:53 am

ScotchBlog wrote: So charging for tours does double duty of "keeping out the riff-raff" and bringing in some extra cash.

I'm not so sure the "riff-raff" has to pay for the distillery tour - at least not much! If I'm not totally wrong most of the tourists will be (often elderly) people going by the buss loads touring Scotland, and a visiting a distillery is only one of the things to do while it lasts. Usually, such tourist attractions are almost free for people like that but they are expected to buy from the distillery shop etc. More often than not it's the individuals and small groups that have to pay (full price) .
But I don't know how it works in Scotland.

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Postby Elliot » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:24 pm

Mr Fjeld wrote:
ScotchBlog wrote: So charging for tours does double duty of "keeping out the riff-raff" and bringing in some extra cash.

I'm not so sure the "riff-raff" has to pay for the distillery tour - at least not much! If I'm not totally wrong most of the tourists will be (often elderly) people going by the buss loads touring Scotland, and a visiting a distillery is only one of the things to do while it lasts. Usually, such tourist attractions are almost free for people like that but they are expected to buy from the distillery shop etc. More often than not it's the individuals and small groups that have to pay (full price) .
But I don't know how it works in Scotland.

Christian


The bourbon distilleries here will readily admit that much better prices can be had at local liquor stores such as Liquor Barn, and therefore don't really expect you to purchase bourbon at their gift shop. Occassionally there are signed bottles, etc., depending on the distillery, but there are fewer products available at the distilleries themselves than regular retail outlets. The regulatory reason behind this is that distilleries have a limited liquor retail license, designated as a "souvenier license." They are therefore not allowed to undercut their own distributors and are limited in the amount they are allowed to sell to one particular customer. If you are on a tour bus, I suppose you wouldn't mind picking up a bottle, but the Pappy van Winkle was $20 more expensive at Buffalo Trace than Liquor Barn.
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Forty Creek Distillery (not so) Tour

Postby Wendy » Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:46 pm

"edited" - double copy
Last edited by Wendy on Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Forty Creek Distillery (not so) Tour

Postby Wendy » Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:47 pm

Forty Creek Distillery Tour

Well, this past Saturday, Harry and I plus a couple of American guests organized a visit to Forty Creek Distillery in Grimbsy, Ontario. It all started out smooth sailing...

As planned, Harry drove into Toronto to pick up a visiting friend from Las Vegas, John, (another whisky enthusiast and member of PLOWED) and me in his MINI convertible. This was the first time that Harry and John had met after chatting on another great Whisky Forum and, in addition, another American whisky enthusiast was crossing the border to meet up with them at the Distillery who Harry had also not met before. With the promise of a great day ahead of us and with the only steadfast deadline for the day being the 2:00 pm Distillery Tour, we hit the highway with the sun on our backs.

Well, to make a long story short, the traffic from Toronto to Grimsby was bumper to bumper and WE MISSED THE TOUR!! Our fourth party member, Tom, who made it on time, went on the tour and with the grace of patience, waited for us to show up. Upon arriving, we soon discovered that the Distillery has pretty strict rules and after a couple of pathetic attempts to even allow our Las Vegas friend a peak into the Distillery, we were greeted with a firm NO. As we chatted in the Visitor Centre, we, ironically, caught the tour, via third party, on Tom’s digital camera with the phrase, “So Close but So Far Away” playing over and over and over again in my head.

In the Visitor Centre, guests are offered three complimentary and generous samples to try from a line up of Forty Creek whiskies and Kittling Ridge wines, liquers, vodka’s etc. I sampled Forty Creek Three Grain Whisky and new release, Mountain Rock Whisky. Three Grain Whisky is being discontinued and remaining bottlings can only be purchased at the Distillery.

Tasting Notes:

Mountain Rock Whisky: med. Amber colour; taste – toffee, light-weight sweet fruity, delicate “rye” and VERY smooth, easy drinking; nose – nothing really jumped out at me. LCBO retail: $22.75

Three Grain Whisky: Amber-red colour; taste – vanilla, dry toast, fruity (non-descript). I think this whisky is very pleasant and find it unfortunate that it is being discontinued. My tasting notes are shabby, but in comparison to Mountain Rock Whisky, I think Three Grain has more going on.

Purchase: Forty Creek, Three Grain Whisky, 40%abv, 750ml

I have to admit I was initially quite miffed, to not fault of anyone, and felt very badly for our American guest to have missed the tour, let alone denied a quick peak of the facilities. It was however a pleasure to have met the PLOWED members and of course to hang out with Harry. In most cases, it is more about who you share the journey with than what awaits you at the end!
Cheers,
Wendy
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Postby thehighking » Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:57 pm

I was *just* in Scotland and visited the following places:

- Arbeg
- Bowmore
- Lagavulin
- Bruichladdich

First, let me say that I was thoroughly disappointed by the Lagavulin tour. It wasn't a bad tour and I love the whisky (it is one of my favs), but the tour is very corporate (as is the whole distillery), very lifeless, and just generally, well, weak. Sorry. My wife and I had the choice of going to Lagavulin or Laphroaig due to time constraints and we picked Lagavulin and sort of regret it...

ARBEG - Fantastic tour, fantastic distillery, fantastic shop, fantastic little cafe. Everything about this tour was incredible. Knowledgeable tour guides who really seem into it, etc., etc.

BOWMORE - Fantastic distillery, OK tour---the tour guide left a little to be desired, but overall, Bowmore is a really neat place to visit and the people who work there/in the shop are extremely nice and will let you taste whatever you want, etc. ,etc. Cool to see that it is one of the few distilleries that does their own maltings...

BRUICHLADDICH - Great tour. Bruichladdich is not one of my favorite whiskies, but I was very impressed by their tour. A lot of fun, great to see them bottle their own stuff. Also, they have valinches of whisky that you can buy, which you can only buy there, which was a nice treat...

Overall, I'd say that Ardbeg is a must, while both Bowmore and Bruichladdich shouldn't be missed. Nothing special at Lagavulin as far as I am concerned.
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:02 am

Interesting thoughts about Lagavulin Thehighking , we just done a tour there last week , with perfect timing the day after shutdown ! We didn't get Marjorie this time but the new young lass (who's name escapes me) , she was very good but had just started and didn't know the answers to a few questions but the enthusiasm was there !
The same day we done an afternoon tour of Ardbeg and Lindsey the guide was superb , thorough history of the place and a superb knowledge and she's a damn good piper to boot ! These were the first normal tours we'd done for a while at these distilleries and they were very good .
Maybe in november we'll get around to doing one of Marys' Laddie tours .

Slainte
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