September Tour of Distilleries
The Wash Act Whisky Society- Sweden
Andy Grant reports on a Scottish distillery tour
I met the twelve Swedish guys at Edinburgh airport where they were welcomed by a grand Scottish day – trying very hard to rain! We boarded the bus and went straight to Perth where we were met by Paul and Liz at the Hotel. We all met in the lounge for pre dinner drinks and a chat. Paul, Liz, Alan (our driver) and I were presented with The Wash Act Whisky Society badges by the group which was a nice gesture. We then went into dinner and a tasting of four whiskies. Shame I only liked two! I knew I was in trouble after that! After all, my tastes in whisky are for the lighter, sweeter ones from the Strathspey area. A good night was enjoyed by all and was a great start to what proved, for me, a great tour!
Monday morning saw us all on the bus on time and raring to go! Our first stop was at the Tullibardine Distillery at Blackford in Perthshire. Once one of the main Market towns it is now a quiet village ‘dominated’ by the Distillery and Baxters Soup! We arrived just as the Distillery was opening which gave the guys a good chance to look around the shop prior to the tour. It was after this tour I realised I was taking round a knowledgeable (VERY!) bunch of people who knew about whisky and how to drink it! All purchased something even if it was only a glass or two.
From there we went to Crieff to Glenturret distillery, the home of the Famous Grouse where, again the tour was taken and they tried to buy out the shop! We then travelled onwards to Fort William to stay overnight in a nice B&B, rooms were good and the owners were extremely hospitable. We made arrangements to meet in the bar before going into town for a meal. I got down, I thought, early to be met by a large group having a, you guessed it, whisky! The hotel has a small bar which has a small but fine selection of good whiskies.
On Tuesday morning we started with a tour of the Ben Nevis distillery. I was invited to go along but drinking four whiskies at 10:30 in the morning isn’t conducive to staying sober in charge of a tour! The Ben Nevis distillery always receives great reviews for their tours as does their whisky and it was the same this time. The guys all loved the place…and products! They had been booked on the ‘grand’ tour and had a tasting of four whiskies in the Board Room of the Distillery. Although more expensive, all the group said it more than worth it and they all loved all the whiskies presented. From Fort William, on the Wednesday, we went to Skye, stopping at Eilean Donan castle, at which another tour had been arranged. Again the group were very positive in their comments. From there we went to one of Scotland’s jewels in its crown, the Isle of Skye, Eilean a’ Cheo, the Island of Mist, one of my favourite places in the world. This hotel was excellent, with friendly staff and a great pub attached to the hotel with THE best selection of whiskies I have seen in any pub in Scotland! It was heaven for the Swedish guys!
The morning dawned and we set off to the famous Talisker Distillery and the group were REALLY looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint them. They were very enthusiastic about this Distillery and the whiskies produced. From here we nipped back to the hotel to drop of the bottles bought and a change of shoes as a wee change to the itinerary had been requested by some. We dropped half the tour in Portree and the remainder went to walk to the Old Man of Storr in the north east of the island. They were lucky!!!! Before and after this wee trip, the rain was ferocious! Whilst they were doing the walk they had glorious sunshine! no accidents happened………until the very last corner when one of them slipped and arrived back covered in mud. When the second half of the group rejoined there seemed to be a lack of sympathy judging by the laughter! From Portree we headed south to visit the Gaelic Whisky Company near Armadale, a very interesting visit. This company blend whiskies but have been given permission to build a brand new distillery on the island, which will give it two and judging by the standard of their work so far will be a good addition to the industry. I knew I was in trouble when, after the first whisky MacNaMara, I didn’t like the rest! It proves I should stick to Strathspey and Highland Park!! We had a nice dinner together at the hotel and the group then went to try more whiskies on their last night on the island! I went to bed!
The day dawned…….dull! Then it started raining! and didn’t stop until we got to Pitlochry! Let’s face it, you don’t come to Scotland for the weather now do you?? We reached Pitlochry and went immediately to Edradour Distillery, where the guide was waiting for us. Judging by the length of time they spent there this was undoubtedly their favourite of all we had visited. Again, many bottles were in evidence to prove the point! from there, it was off to Edinburgh for the Group’s last night in Scotland. After being asked to get all their stuff together and off the bus quickly due to the hotel being on Princes Street, I was impressed with the speed they did it! No chance of a parking fine being issued! We said a quick goodbye and moved off quickly. I am betting some establishment had a good, profitable night!
I would like to say that the Scottish Wash Act Whisky Society was a brilliant set of people and an absolute pleasure to take on tour. I just hope WHEN they come back to tour Strathspey Paul allows me to be the guide.
Written by Andy Grant, tour manager for MCLEANSCOTLAND on this occasion. firstname.lastname@example.org
“Hi Andy, Just a quick email to say thank you for making an already good tour perfect! Your knowledge of the Scottish history brought a greater depth to the places we visited. Please send my and the whole groups regards to Alan for being such a great driver and great a guy! We´re all back in Sweden and, believe it or not, we´re all sober!” – Kind regards Anders