Whisky Magazine Issue 32
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Did Whisky Magazine's secret agent really feel like a VIP on The Macallan's special tour?
On more than one occasion in this column, I've aired my theory that too many distillery tours are too similar. With growing interest and knowledge, especially in malt finishes and ages, it's time to give the so-called ‘connoisseur consumer' the chance to learn more by providing an alternative to the standard package tour.
And, just like taxis in the rain, after waiting for ages along come three at once. Aberlour, Glenfiddich and The Macallan have all announced premium tours for the really committed visitor. They come at a premium price, of course – £15 in the case of Macallan, where I determined to begin this in-depth exploration of the VIP tour phenomenon.
This is a whisky with a fanatical following, so I figured that the VIP Tour had to be really special. Capacity is limited, so you have to book, and that lends an air of anticipation to the whole process.
I was pretty excited as we were greeted at the visitor centre, but, to be honest, the distillery tour was a bit of an anticlimax. Yes, we were allocated our own personal guide – a cheerful and personable fellow – and he couldn't be faulted on distillery history and brand facts, but the tour is identical to the standard (free) product, and I thought that was a a let-down.
‘VIPTour' does imply access to some off-limits areas, or the chance to get more hands-on with the production process (Glenfiddich does this
rather well, by the way), so you feel short-changed by the time you return to the centre.