Whisky Magazine Issue 89
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Touring the pretty west coast of Scotland? Gavin D. Smith looks at what's on offer for the whisky enthusiast.
The West Highlands are undoubtedly one of the most spectacular areas of Scotland, embracing breathtaking mountains, forests, lochs and seascapes. Little wonder, then, that they are extremely popular with visitors, offering a wide variety of leisure activities and facilities.
With the principal population centres of Oban (www.oban.org.uk) and Fort William (www.lochaber.com/ www.visitscotland.com) each being roughly 100 miles by road from Glasgow, the West Highlands are less remote than is supposed.
Although the west of Scotland offers far fewer distilleries for the ‘whisky tourist' to visit than the east, due primarily to the fact that the climate has never been ideal for the cultivation of barley, both Oban and Fort William are home to traditional, whisky-making operations steeped in history, and both provide very worthwhile visitor experiences.
Oban is one of Scotland's oldest distilleries, having been founded in 1794 by members of the Stevenson family, and it is unusual in having a town centre location, although in this instance the settlement really grew up round the distillery. In the ownership of Diageo, Oban is one of the original Classic Malts, selected to represent the Western Highlands in 1988, and around one million bottles of the 14 Years Old expression sell each year.
Oban is equipped with just one pair of stills, producing some 700,000 litres of spirit per annum, so all production is reserved for single malt release rather than for blending purposes. Indeed...