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Issue 107 - The Heart of the Matter

Whisky Magazine Issue 107
October 2012

 

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The Heart of the Matter

Joel Harrison explores the iconic whisky making region

The River Spey is the pulmonary artery of the Scotch industry, pumping water in to the heart of the country's largest whisky making region.

This aqua is transformed by the age-old distilleries, using just barley, yeast, heat and copper, into the superhero version of its former self: aqua vitae.

It is this supercharged spirit which, having slumbered in oak casks, emerges as whisky. But not just any whisky; this is Speyside whisky.

Playing Oxford to the Highlands' Cambridge, the individual distilleries of this region stand proudly like colleges, their alumni, single malts who have graduated with distinctions and a much sought-after CV, recognised the world over. It is this international acclaim which attracts visitors from across the world to this small part of Scotland.

Hidden away somewhere between Aberdeen and Inverness, Speyside is home to a vast array of distilleries. Household names such as Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet, The Macallan and Cragganmore are flanked by some not-so-wellknown monikers such as Tamnavulin and Tormore. Put simply, this is a hot bed for distilling and a must visit for any serious Scotch whisky fan.

Travelling around Speyside really gives one a sense of quite how vast this industry would have been in the mid to late 1800s.

Deliberately hidden away in hardto- find areas, in the hollow of a vast glen, or simply near a water source, many of these operations date back centuries to a time when avoiding the King's excisemen was as important as churning ...

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