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Whisky Trail 2019

Specialist Specialist
Posted on 19-05-2019 at 21:26 pm

Some of you have enjoyed my reports from previous whisky travels, so to follow up my “Whisky Trail 2018” here’s a «short» report on my 2019 main whisky event. Maybe some tips or questions answered for those thinking about a first time visit.

Or if it's not answered, feel free to post the question.

I had 4 friends joining this year, amongst them two first timers.

Flights and a rental were booked as soon as the days were agreed upon.

Quite a few destinations were plotted in and events for pre-booking listed by priority.

Bookings were done as soon as they became available online, and suitable accommodations picked out at the same time.

I’ll split it in day by day chapters.

  Edited on 19-05-2019 at 22:08 pm
Specialist Specialist
Posted on 19-05-2019 at 21:33 pm


We left on Tuesday 14th and no one complained about the flight being pushed an hour forward, giving us a little head start.

Arrived in balmy weather and picked up a 7 seater at the airport. Enough space for the 5 of us and our light luggage.

First stop was Deanston:


Interesting location, nice and tidy, a small coffee shop with good food.

Very good selection in the visitor center shop with lots of distillery only bottlings.

First stop and I couldn’t help myself. Here we go: had to have the 12YO Palo Cortado cask.

Thanks to a heads up from Karloff I managed to squeeze in Doune Castle where Monthy Pyton filmed a major part of The Holy Grail. Even as a Pyton fan I had mostly whisky on my mind when planning this, and would have been a bit pissed with myself if I had found out later I had just passed it within sight.


Got ourselves some tickets, snooped around, took some pics and bought a few Holy Beers before heading on.

Just another short 15 minutes’ drive and we hit Tullibardine.


Large visitor center and a huge selection in the shop. A lot of blend though, as they are the designated distillery of Highland Queen. Quite pleased with my purchase of 10 bottles of the 30YO @ £38 each some time ago. No need to stock up here at a price of £119 happy

Most exclusive: a 1952 Tullibardine decanter, single cask of only 100 bottles @ £20.000

No worries about the budget, it was sold out so the display bottle was probably a prop.

Got the usual necessities; a glass with logo and a pin badge.

30 minutes later we reached our booked goal; Glenturret.


After the sale they are no longer “Home of The Grouse”. The sign above the door is removed and so is the big copper bird in the yard.

It was still heavily used and pointed out around the distillery though.

One thing they will probably never have taken away from them is a bronze statue of the distillery cat Towser.

He lived there from 1963 until 1987! And he is noted in the Guinness Book of Records for having caught 28.890 mice.


A nice distillery, good shop and coffee shop.

We had a tour with an extended tasting + the distillery exclusive “dream dram”.

I’ve had better guides and the staff seemed a bit stressed at times. I may have been more critical than usual, as I was totally sober and had my tastings in a driver’s pack.

The first distillery I’ve been to where the mashing is done manually by hand in small batches.

Strickt rules of no photography and not even mobile phone use in production areas.

Still an overall positive experience, and we headed on for a 2-3 hour drive up to Inverness where I had booked us at the old Millburn distillery which is now a Premier In hotel.

  Edited on 22-05-2019 at 23:31 pm
Specialist Specialist
Posted on 19-05-2019 at 21:50 pm


Not every night gives the opportunity to sleep in an old distillery, still we had to rise and shine to reach all our goals on a full day’s schedule. Lucky us, the sun rose with us again as we left Millburn at 08:30.


Did a short detour going a bit back south again down to Urquhart castle on the shores of Loch Ness.

Arriving an hour before the gates opened and finding that the only option was a full packet tour with a video on the history and an hours tour, we decided to keep those £12 in our pocket and get on our way. Making sure to avoid Nessie-land, inflated Nessie bouncy castles and plush monsters on our way up north again.


First distillery of the day was Glen Ord. This is a large factory for the blend market with a massive malting plant across the road. Still it managed to give of a good vibe and positive feel.

Nice visitor center, with a “museum” display room here as well.

Not too much of interest outside the basic in regards of whisky, I kind of had a feeling I would find more tempting offers than £1.500 Singleton on our way.


Not that much farther north was Teaninich.

Even more of a factory than Glen Ord, much smaller, but without a trace of a soul.

Not even the name on any of the buildings.

The gates were open and there were no signs with access restriction, so we had a drive around the plant and no one seemed to be bothered.


Right up the road we found the gates of Dalmore with a “CLOSED” sign.

Talked to someone on the property and was told they were doing renovation, rebuild and expansion.

The still house was gutted and the visitor center had its (awful) guts torn out as well.

Let’s hope Richard Paterson is not involved in the design of the new one.

Took some pictures and left, not feeling any sadder than when we arrived.


30 minutes further up the road was Invergordon grain distillery.

Unlike Teaninich this site had the gate plastered with safety rules and access restrictions.

We felt a bit “spy like” as we sat in the car taking a few photos of the plant before rushing onward.


Next on our list was Tain and Glenmorangie.

When planning the trip I found no tour outside the basic with a dram of 10YO to be of interest.

That is unless you wanted to book accommodation at Glenmorangie House with a late night dinner party and a selection of vintages.

However they had an interesting company car happy A 1962 Cadillac.

From a distance I thought the roof was covered in LV logo fabric, but it was fake rattlesnake.


Expansion going on here as well, but it was hardly noticeable.

The doors to the still house were open so we got a look at the rather fascinating tall giraffe neck stills.


Fascinating is more than can be said about their shop and visitor center which must have been designed by a Louis Vuitton executive.

However, friendly staff just told us to help ourselves with quite posh lidded nosing glasses from the surplus stock of the festival day they had on the day before.

Last driving stop of the day was Edderton lodge where we had booked rooms for the night.


Excellent location for a good time at Balblair just 300 meters walk down the road.


A full score distillery visit. I’ve never met more service minded and naturally happy people at any distillery.

The “fill your own” cask option at the end, which we had during our tasting, was one of the best drams on the trip this far, so they ended up with a 3 bottle sale.

Here’s the campers, almost as happy as the employees with the catch of the day.


The lodge owner gave us the number for the local taxi service, but couldn’t guaranty that any would show up. More to his surprise than ours a taxi showed up 30 minutes later.

I think Colin McRae would have had a hard time following his Transit down to main street Tain.

But after some hot curry at a place he recommended we felt brave enough to call him for the return.

  Edited on 22-05-2019 at 23:37 pm
Specialist Specialist
Posted on 19-05-2019 at 21:55 pm

Great photos mate. I take it the large bottle of Famous Grouse has also gone from Glenturret? I wonder where that ended up. 

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. Tom Waits
Specialist Specialist
Posted on 19-05-2019 at 21:58 pm


With the sun still on our side we checked out early for our third day.

About an hour later we hit Clynelish a few minutes after they opened the doors.


They had a cool looking tasting room, but the shop was really tiny.

Pretty slim selection as well, and without the GoT bottles it would have been pretty much just Johnnie and a couple of Clynelish.

Got a tiny wee sample of the 14YO for free though, before at least I tracked down to the Brora resurrection site.

Things are happening there, and access are limited.


The coastal route north to our destination of Wick was a pure scenic pleasure on a sunny 17th of May, which is our Norwegian national day. Put a flag on the car for the occasion.

Arrived safely around 3pm and checked in at this place.


Walked across the river and up to Pulteney distillery.


Small shop but a spacious “briefing” room and a very cool tasting room after the tour.

Had the new range; 12, 15, 18 and the peated cask Huddart.

The rules are in stark contrast at different distilleries. Here we could snap away everywhere, as long as we kept the flash off.


Even almost sticking the camera into an open spirit safe where the juice was flowing.


On our way back down to town we had a stop to check out what looked to be a bit tired old pub, Mountain Dew, claiming to be the oldest in Wick.

Never had a better time in a pub, period!

Here’s the owner, John, with a bottle I polished off.


It was on its heel, so after measuring up my ordered dram, he tilted the bottle and squinted at it.

It had about one and a half measure left, but he just smiled and poured the rest in my glass.

The effort he put in to entertain us was amazing, and I think what happens in Wick stays in Wick (on our account, not his) wink 

Later that night we had a meal and some more beer at Bains.


This is where I made the mistake of forgetting my camera hanging on the chair when we left the full house for the night, not realizing until I couldn’t find it as we were about to leave the next morning and had to backtrack to remember where I last used it.

With little to no hope I still ran down there, and how lucky can you get?

They were open at 8am and my camera was on the shelf behind the bar.

  Edited on 22-05-2019 at 23:40 pm
Specialist Specialist
Posted on 19-05-2019 at 22:04 pm


Super happy and relieved, most of all for not losing 250 or so pictures, we hit the long road south again.

Past Inverness we made a stop at Tomatin.


Hitting them on Highland Whisky Festival day their small shop was overcrowded.

Very tempted by their exclusive festival day bottling, but managed to restrain myself.

Ronny insisted on a 5 minute detour through Pitlochry and a brief stop at Blair Athol.

Just so he could relive his dream dram from last year in the visitor center bar.


Then a short drive later reaching our last goal of the tour; Dewar’s Aberfeldy.


A very nice looking distillery, although part of it is now only used for display purposes.

They do not fill or store casks on site, everything is shipped to Glasgow in tankers.

The historic exhibition is amongst the best I’ve seen.

Here’s Ronny taking care of business.


3 of us had the “Blender’s Experience” which is the most fun and educational distillery event I have attended. We each got 5 bottles of single malt; an Aberfeldy, and undisclosed bottles of Highland, Lowland, Speyside and Islay. A concentrated fragrance kit matched to each bottle to help us sniff our way into our own ultimate blend by purely nosing.

At the end our 0,5 liter of blended malt had its abv measured by spectrometer before we got to bottle and custom label it.

A relaxed, knowledgeable and funny guide helped us along the way.


The last night was spent in this lovely little B&B 12 minutes walk from the distillery.


  Edited on 22-05-2019 at 23:43 pm
Specialist Specialist
Posted on 19-05-2019 at 22:06 pm


The first clouded morning of our trip, but we didn’t mind, we had got more than we could ask for already.

So this year as well as the last 3-4 years our share and understanding of the dreadful Scottish weather is a couple of drops of rain on our heads as we walk from the rental drop off to the airport terminal.


I came home with 4 liters of fluid in my suitcase, this time downloading the customs fee app, paying £75 tax and walking through the green zone feeling calm.

You really can’t compare one trip with another. There have been moments I will never forget on previous trips, as it was this year as well. However, there has never been as many destinations planned as this year, and with every single one ticked off in timely manner (I don’t mind minor details like Dalmore being closed) I would call this a success. And I think my fellow travelers were happy to tag along.

Specialist Specialist
Posted on 19-05-2019 at 22:34 pm

karloff wrote:

Great photos mate. I take it the large bottle of Famous Grouse has also gone from Glenturret? I wonder where that ended up. 

No sign of any Grouse bottle larger than the 0,7's in the shop.

Half way between Pitlochry and Aberfeldy I saw a sign (one of those brown with a blue thistle that usually points to an attraction) with "The Famous Grouse Experience - 3 miles" pointing down a grawel road.

Maybe Edrington has relocated it as a "fake" experience or amusement site, but I can't find any info online.

Specialist Specialist
Posted on 19-05-2019 at 23:16 pm

We stayed in the Station House when we visited Aberfeldy. Continental breakfast if my memory serves. Not a good start to any day never mind a day of drinking. 

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. Tom Waits
Specialist Specialist
Posted on 20-05-2019 at 00:42 am

karloff wrote:

We stayed in the Station House when we visited Aberfeldy. Continental breakfast if my memory serves. Not a good start to any day never mind a day of drinking. 

I had booked with a full English breakfast, but it would not have been ready until 8:30 with us leaving at 9:00 the earliest, probably would have been closer to 9:30

Estimating a close to 2 hours drive back to the airport, then rental drop off and check in no later than 11:30 there would be little time to spare.

Last year we spent 30 mins stuck in a jam 5 miles from the airport, and having made everything else on time it would have been really silly if the only thing we missed would be the flight home.

So we skipped breakfast and I paid for the rooms in the evening in the hotel reception across the street.

Got back and met the landlady at the door and told her we canceled breakfast, and she said we were free to help ourselves from the kitchen with cereals, fruits and the coffee machine in the morning.

Some of us did, some didn't and we got on the road at 8:00 and reached the airport with good margin.

  Edited on 20-05-2019 at 00:43 am
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