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Who amongst us has made pilgrimage to a whisky distillery?

General chat and talk about whisky.

Who amongst us has made pilgrimage to a whisky distillery?

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:51 pm

Personally, I have visited some distilleries in Scotland and Ireland, as well as rum distilleries in the Caribbean.

I found the visits and discussions with the people making the whisky a good, and slightly humbling, experience. On one hand, you get to see that there is 'no magic' as such to making whisky / rum, and that it really IS for example the '16 men of Tain' who do make the spirit, using by large methods passed on from earlier times (often despite of the installed newer technology, its use is still quite limited in practice).

On the other hand, I do find that meeting the people who do the work, the mashmen, the stillmen, etc. helps one gain perspective and respect for their trade and work. Despite of slick marketing seen occasionally, these people are not out to cheat us, do a mucky job, pass poor whisky worth a penny for a pound: They are professionals, who take pride in what they do, and enjoy seeing satisfied customers.
Last edited by Deactivated Member on Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Wave » Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:41 pm

In my travels to Scotland I have visited some 22 distilleries, several twice! The old adage of if you've seen one, you've seen them all doesn't apply here as each distillery has it's own way of doing things, differences in still shapes, condensers, whether to use stainless steel or natural pine washbacks, temps and amounts of water used in the mash tuns, the list is endless! Most of the people conducting the tours have had generally a very good understanding of their product though it's specially nice when you get a stillman to show you around.

I've enjoyed travelling to these distilleries and to the towns and villages from where they are located and meeting many very fine people along the way. From the shores of Islay, the mountains of Dalwhinnie, through the rolling and bountiful hills of Speyside and to the northern Isles and many places in between, I've enjoyed it all!


Cheers!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:56 pm

I've toured all the extant bourbon distilleries which give tours -- plus a couple that don't -- as well as Jack Daniel's and George Dickel in Tennessee.
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Postby Di Blasi » Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:40 am

My first and yet only trip thus far was in August to Glengoyne! It was excellent! And my girlfriend whom is sick and tired of hearing that word whisky come out of my mouth even enjoyed herself! Our tour guide Fiona answered every single question on the spot, and had my girlfriend interested the entire tour. We blended our own whisky in their new portion of the vip tour, and again, grinning all the way was my girlfriend. We got a certificate, and kept our blending notes so that when we return one day, we can duplicate our wonderful blends. Everyone we came in contact with smiled and greeted us warmly, they are all so nice. The distillery isn't a big commercial operation, and it did feel like a close-knit family. And their shop didn't have a bunch of junk, but instead smart, different gifts and things worth buying. Even Fiona's mom has some really nice handmade greeting cards for sale, some with a whisky theme! We'll be back next time, and hopefully to Ardbeg too sometime soon!
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Oct 25, 2006 7:11 am

Lots, but lots to go. When I've seen them all I'll start agian.
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Postby Bullie » Wed Oct 25, 2006 7:54 am

Just this summer I visited five distilleries and one central malting facility, during a six day long course, were we worked actively on one distillery, and got advanced tours with the distillerymanagers on the others.

After working at one of the most oldfashioned distilleries in Scotland for some days, malting, filling casks, learning to vat, see and try to work a spiritsafe, getting an active insight in the distillingprocess etc etc, I've got an even greater respect for the employees of the trade than before.

Next month I will do just about the same on another distillery for three and a half day.
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Postby corbuso » Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:39 am

I have visited so far more than half of the distilleries of Scotland.
In any case, every single distillery is different and worth a visit. Although the production of whisky is quite simple, every distillery is unique.
I have met a fair number of whiskymen, distillery mangagers, brand ambassadors and tour guides.
The knowledge of the tour guides has improved quite a lot during these last two years and distilleries have started to make connoisseurs tours. I try to avoid the July-August period when visiting the distilleries, since most of tours are conducted by students.
Talking to the stillmen, mashman and distillery managers is always a pleasure. That's how you learn about the whisky and its differences. After visiting a distillery and spending a few hours with some whisky men, you won't drink the whisky the same way.
I can only recommend to visit distilleries and live the experience.
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Postby corbuso » Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:42 am

Bullie wrote:Just this summer I visited five distilleries and one central malting facility, during a six day long course, were we worked actively on one distillery, and got advanced tours with the distillerymanagers on the others.

After working at one of the most oldfashioned distilleries in Scotland for some days, malting, filling casks, learning to vat, see and try to work a spiritsafe, getting an active insight in the distillingprocess etc etc, I've got an even greater respect for the employees of the trade than before.

Next month I will do just about the same on another distillery for three and a half day.


Hi Bullie,
So you have enjoyed your stay in the West Coast at B..? Does it worth the money? Was it well organized?
BR
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:51 am

I can see that there's an overall consensus here that visiting the distilleries and meeting with the people who make the whisky is not only pleasant and informative, but also a bit of an eye-opener to many as to the sincerity of the industry.

I actually started this topic partly due to the fact that in last few days there's been a number of questionnaires and topics, which to me seemed rather negative in overall tone, and partially also appeared to suggest towards insincerity and a greated immoral overall approach towards the product and consumers by those people who make malt whisky, or sell it. Knowing a fair few individuals involved in various aspects of this manufacturing and trade, such insinuations, no matter how cynical or ironic in nature, seemed rather unfair and founded on little but suspicions, chronic mistrust and a hardened attitude.

Whilst I do respect free speach and voicing opinions publicly, I see no reason for this type of suggestions. And this opinion is mostly based on knowledge of the persons involved with whisky - they are without a doubt some of the nicest and most sincere persons I have met.
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Postby Di Blasi » Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:40 am

Hey Bullie! Why the secrets regarding the visited distilleries? I wonder which spoiled you?
And yes M.R.J., I do agree the people in the business are very down to earth, humble, proud, and mostly passionate about what they do, and sharing it with others. In speaking with Robbie Hughes, distillery manager at Glengoyne, although he has worked at about 13 other distillieries, he doesn't knock one of them, in fact, still says they're great! But of course, Glengoyne just edges them out in greatness, and it's the Glengoyne 17y he would want with him if he were on an island.
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Postby les taylor » Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:46 pm

MRJ. You are right the people at distilleries are great down to earth and love what they are doing. We have visited 5 distilleries on Islay, Oban and Glen Ord. All were lovely and entertaining. Also been to Martell in Cognac France. All tell the same story about the angel's share. :)
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Wed Oct 25, 2006 2:35 pm

However one has to realise there is a huge difference between the people who make the product and the people who market the product and even then I presume they are nice people too :). Their job is to make the whisky as saleable as possible whether with fancy packaging or wild claims of historic representation etc, it's all part of their game.

Further Just because your a nice all round guy does not mean your not going to colour your products or sell your products at hughly inflated prices as it might not be a decision you have control over.

In all fairness I think the majority of whiskey lovers respect the trade but also like to get stuff off their chest on forums like this, so I don't feel people are in general unfair. By voicing your opinions here you hear others and can then make a more object opinion if you believe what is being posted. I personally have found this forum great and people have set me straight :lol: a number of times on my misguided opinions :lol:

Just as long as people don't turn down right nasty, all comments are great connon fodder for us whisky bores.
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Postby Bullie » Wed Oct 25, 2006 2:43 pm

corbuso wrote:Hi Bullie,
So you have enjoyed your stay in the West Coast at B..? Does it worth the money? Was it well organized?
BR


Oh it wasn't Bruichladdich. I attended a course were we worked for some days at Springbank, visited Glen Gyle (Kilkerran) and then went over to Islay for advanced tours/lessons at Lagavulin, Caol Ila and Ardbeg. The central malting facility we visited (and shoveled some peat into the fires) were of course Port Ellen Maltings.

I ended up with a very nice Master Of Whisky-diploma signed by the distillerymanagers of Springbank, Caol Ila and Lagavulin (and some other signatures as well).

Everything was extremely well organized. :D
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Postby Bullie » Wed Oct 25, 2006 2:45 pm

Di Blasi wrote:Hey Bullie! Why the secrets regarding the visited distilleries? I wonder which spoiled you?


No secrets my friend, no secrets... Just a little bit stressed this morning when I posted my first post... :)
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Postby Bullie » Thu Nov 09, 2006 12:24 pm

Of to the promised land once more this year. :) Just 15 days to wait now. I'll tell you more about it, when I get back home. (If i get back... ;))
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Thu Nov 09, 2006 1:04 pm

Bullie wrote:Of to the promised land once more this year. :) Just 15 days to wait now. I'll tell you more about it, when I get back home. (If i get back... ;))



Good luck in getting back home :wink: and enjoy.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Nov 10, 2006 6:19 am

M.R.J., I think we all respect the people who make whisky; many of us are cynical about marketers, suits, and the large companies that own many distilleries. Would that the romantic ideal were true, and every distillery was an independent business, producing and selling its wares directly from its own venue. Alas, the industry could never have survived that way.

I have toured Jura, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Bowmore, Caol Ila, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Bunnahabhain, Talisker, Highland Park, Balvenie, Glenfarclas, and Aberlour, and had a peek at or poke around any number of others (including an inside look at several in the company of the gracious Ian Logan). I don't find my appetite for tours to be insatiable; at this point, two or three a year is plenty for me. I agree the opportunity for a blether with distillery managers, stillmen, and other genuine whisky workers, current or retired, is the best possibility. It doesn't always happen, or even often, at least not for those of us who go as standard tourists. Of course, if you're Lawrence....
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Postby KenBeau » Fri Nov 10, 2006 7:05 am

I made my 1st trip to Scotland over 4 years ago (has it been THAT long?! :shock: Ay!) and the tour I took made a stop at The Glenlivet.

I'm going to be in Edinburgh for Hogmanay:D , and I'm pondering trying to make it out to Tullibardine, unless there's something a little bit closer...? :?
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Postby Wave » Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:21 pm

I'm going to be in Edinburgh for Hogmanay:D , and I'm pondering trying to make it out to Tullibardine, unless there's something a little bit closer...?


There's the Glenkinchie distillery on the southern outskirts of Edinburgh or you can take the train up to Pitlochry for the Blair Athol & Edradour distilleries and/or a little farther north on the same railline to Dalwhinnie. If you make it to Tullibardine do their connoisseur's tour (must book ahead), most excellent!


Cheers!
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Postby Nidaros » Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:07 am

I have been to Glengoyne as well.

It was really nice, unfortunately there was no production there, due to maintenance. But this allowed us to take pictures, which is otherwise not allowed.

This was really the beginning of my love affair with the nectar.
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Postby Scotty Mc » Tue Nov 14, 2006 5:45 pm

I've only managed to visit 2 distilleries being Blair Athol & Glenkinchie (sore subject surrounding Edradour!).

Again, both are different in their approach to distilling and also in the way their tours are guided.
When visiting, I feel a sense of professionalism and the soul of the workers that make it. These guys must love their jobs (same as brewers) otherwise they wouldn't being doing it.
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Postby Andrew_Toronto » Wed Nov 29, 2006 5:24 pm

went to the royal lochnagar distillery many years ago...too bad i hadn't really the taste for it then!
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Postby Bullie » Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:14 am

So I thought you'd like to see some pics (the official ones) from my last trip to the promised land. I spent four days as a guineapig with the staff of Glengoyne and a superhero tourguide at an upcoming event at the distillery. :lol:

In a week and a half, I'll go to the speyside area for another distillery visit... 8)

Here's a link to the picturesite - The Honorary Stillman Experience:
http://d699529.u33.surftown.se/ghs/ghswf.htm

P.S The bold laddie with a beard (and a green kilt sometimes) is me... [/code]
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Postby vitara7 » Sat Jan 13, 2007 1:09 am

ive been to nearly all thats been open to the public, with the exception of HP, bladnoch, tobermory talisker and Old pultney and a couple of others i think.
and ive been to a good few that arent open to the public.
i want to have been to every working distillery in scotland eventually
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Postby Wave » Sat Jan 13, 2007 2:16 am

vitara7 wrote:ive been to nearly all thats been open to the public, with the exception of HP, bladnoch, tobermory talisker and Old pultney and a couple of others i think.
and ive been to a good few that arent open to the public.
i want to have been to every working distillery in scotland eventually


I was going to visit the Old Pulteney distillery in Wick but I caught the wrong bus at John 'o' Groats and ended up in Thurso! :lol:


Cheers!
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Postby vitara7 » Sat Jan 13, 2007 2:58 am

i was ment to go to orkeny on business, so i planned to get the ferry and visit OP on the way up, but one thing let to another and we lost the client.
another time i was at balblair getting a personal tour, and the plan was to go up after that, well, one thing lead to another and we ended up being at balblair for most of the day so ran out of time.... but one day i will get up there to add another bottle to the hand bottling you can do at the distillery. currently i have one of them but it is in the large old style bottles, they now have the smaller dumpyier bottles instead that i want. us collectors eh, any little differance and were in there. suckers arnt we.
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Postby Wendy » Sat Jan 13, 2007 3:44 pm

Bullie wrote:So I thought you'd like to see some pics (the official ones) from my last trip to the promised land. I spent four days as a guineapig with the staff of Glengoyne and a superhero tourguide at an upcoming event at the distillery. :lol:

In a week and a half, I'll go to the speyside area for another distillery visit... 8)

Here's a link to the picturesite - The Honorary Stillman Experience:
http://d699529.u33.surftown.se/ghs/ghswf.htm

P.S The bold laddie with a beard (and a green kilt sometimes) is me... [/code]


Hi Bullie,
Thanks for sharing your pictures. From other comments that you have made, I assume that this trip to Glengoyne is still part of the course that you have been taking. Is that correct? Or is "The Honorary Stillman Experience" something completely unrelated? I especially enjoyed the pictures of the Cooperage. Great shots.
Cheers,
Wendy
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Postby Bullie » Sat Jan 13, 2007 3:54 pm

Wendy wrote:Hi Bullie,
Thanks for sharing your pictures. From other comments that you have made, I assume that this trip to Glengoyne is still part of the course that you have been taking. Is that correct? Or is "The Honorary Stillman Experience" something completely unrelated? I especially enjoyed the pictures of the Cooperage. Great shots.
Cheers,
Wendy


No, the first trip I did in June was a course called Master of Whisky, where we worked at Springbank, Port Ellen, Lagavulin, Caol Ila and Ardbeg. That was a week long course. The second trip in november was a Pilot-test for Glengoyne in cooperation with the scottish touristboard called the Honorary Stillman. A four day long course. Attending this pilot were four lads from Sweden, two from Germany, two from England and two from Scotland. But I spent seven days in total, visiting some friends in Greenock and making some pub-rounds in Glasgow...


Yes, the cooperage was really a treat. We were actually the first 'group' ever to visit that cooperage, which is one of the biggest cooperages in Scotland. It was really a treat to have the opportunity to talk to the staff as they were working. They explained a lot, and killed some myths as well... :)

Oh, all the pictures was snapped by my very good friend Robert Van Hal from Malmö, Sweden.
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Postby Wendy » Sat Jan 13, 2007 4:26 pm

Bullie,
I appreciate the explanation. Your recent distillery trip sounds like an overall great experience to be part of a new pilot-project at Glengoyne and to be invited on an exclusive tour of the cooperage. Perhaps you could share in another thread some of the things you learnt at the cooperage...or maybe it is too top secret for the moment. 8)
Take care,
Wendy
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Postby Bullie » Sat Jan 13, 2007 4:32 pm

Wendy wrote:Bullie,
I appreciate the explanation. Your recent distillery trip sounds like an overall great experience to be part of a new pilot-project at Glengoyne and to be invited on an exclusive tour of the cooperage. Perhaps you could share in another thread some of the things you learnt at the cooperage...or maybe it is too top secret for the moment. 8)
Take care,
Wendy


Oh, it was a brilliant experience. I am at the moment writing an article about it, and it will be published - at least here at the forum - at a later stage. Hopefully it will make its way into some magazines as well... :wink:
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Postby dram_time » Sat Jan 13, 2007 5:33 pm

I went to Glen Albyn in between Xmas and new year, I came away with 10litres of apple white paint.

Because rather sadly, its been replaced by a DIY shop.

But you can still see some of the original walls if you look hard enough.

Glen Mhor has been replaced by a carpet shop, a sofa shop and a computer shop. And they call it progress.

Dt.
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Postby Muskrat Portage » Sat Jan 13, 2007 7:30 pm

dram_time wrote:I went to Glen Albyn in between Xmas and new year, I came away with 10 litres of apple white paint.... And they call it progress.
Dt.

Dram_time,;
So, how does the taste compare to the Glen Albyn produced there before? :D
Sorry, I did a driving tour a few years back and they wouldn't stop the car as we drove right past a distillery! Honest I would have returned to the auto in due time. :twisted:
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Postby vitara7 » Sat Jan 13, 2007 8:29 pm

i hate that too dram, going to where adistillery once was, i myself live just along from st mags and hate looking at it everytime.
i was up in inverness a few months back on work and i seen where millburn was as well, call that progress eh... it would bring a tear to a glass eye would that.
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Postby ChicagoDan » Mon Jan 15, 2007 4:02 am

My fiancee and I went to Jameson's Middleton distillery in August for the tour. It was quite nice!! At the end of the tour they asked four volunteers and I naturally jumped in. They gave us a sample of Jameson, Powers, and one other to try and then asked us to compare the whiskey against Jack and Johnny Walker. No pressure there, eh? At the end, we hot a glass of our favorite of theirs and a certificate making me a certified whiskey taster. We grabbed a bottle of the Jameson distillery reserve before we left and will open it on our wedding night.
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Postby DramMeister » Thu Jan 18, 2007 10:37 pm

I've done a few none whisky distilleries, Plymouth gin and quite a few cognacs. I've also been to the Jameson one in Dublin.
Only one SMW though Oban about 7 years ago, with 3 friends. We bought 4 bottles of Classic Malt between us there - Laga 16, Dalwhinnie 15, Glenkiniche 10, and Talisker 10.
This was the start of my whisky education. :D
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