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Issue 74 - It's School time

Whisky Magazine Issue 74
September 2008


This article is 9 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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It's School time

You may think you've had enough of classrooms and teachers, but what about a new learning experience - a whisky school?

It's the most recent development in whisky tourism, with a healthy dash of marketing thrown in. As whisky drinkers get ever more knowledgeable and demand a deeper and deeper experience so whisky schools have been developed to feed their passion.

And, make no mistake, the industry looks with some awe on the levels of knowledge and enthusiasm that some consumers bring to the subject. Perhaps I shouldn't mention the name but when one manager said to me with some feeling “I'm not taking any more Germans round this distillery ever again.

They know more about it than I do!”, he was only partly joking.

But enterprising distillers have seen an opportunity to cash in on this trend and gain life-long friends and informal brand ambassadors at the same time.

There are basically two styles of school: hard-core hands-on, where you do some real work as you learn, and a more relaxed style, that combines elements of a vacation with your learning.

We've written before about the schools at Bladnoch and Bruichladdich. They were among the first to develop this idea and have adopted a purist approach that, as Bruichladdich's Mark Reynier explains is “more work experience than seriously academic – though there is a meaningful exam at the end.” At Bruichladdich and Kilchoman on Islay; Bladnoch and also at Campbeltown's Springbank you have the opportunity to step back in time to a more traditional style of distillery with a high degree of manual operation. Their smaller scale of operat...

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