Whisky Magazine Issue 137
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Where do you go to get your whisky knowledge enhanced
Whisky afiçionados, even those whose cellars bulge with merchant-bottled malts, are a deprived lot. Beer lovers can brew perfectly respectable ale in their kitchens. Ciderheads can have gloriously squashy fun pressing apples in their garages. Even wine connoisseurs can ferment pretty much anything they can grow. But for whisky fans (British ones, at least) it's a case of don't try this at home, or risk the wrath of Larry Law.
And that's cruelly unfair. Not only does it criminalise a harmless hobby (and home distilling is legal in many jurisdictions that aren't noticeably in a state of mass alcoholic meltdown), it erects an artificial barrier between aspirant and actual distiller that doesn't exist in other sectors of the drinks business. And one thing's for sure: there's a substantial corps of whisky drinkers who would love to give it a go if only they could.
But if you're not allowed to try your hand at distilling for yourself, you're more than welcome to watch others doing it. Two thirds of Scotland's 100 malt distilleries now open their doors to 1.5 million visitors a year; and the whisky distillers popping up south of the border - Penderyn, St George's, Cotswold, Lakes, Dartmoor, Chase - all have tourism written into their business plans too. So there are plenty of places where the wannabe maltmeister can gaze longingly through the bars; and in some, you can do more than just gaze.
Distilleries vary enormously in what they offer to visitors. Many provide lavishly for ...