The last installment in our mini series of distillery visits pre-blogging is with Glengoyne. Like the Auchentoshan post all the images here are not mine sadly because I didn’t think to take any. Future distillery posts however will include all my own poor quality photography.
In November 2016 I took the “No1 Warehouse” tour on a brisk Saturday morning. This tour lasts 2 hours and costs a pretty substantial £80. This includes a 20cl bottle of whisky which you fill yourself however. Like the Auchentoshan distillery visit before I had not tried any Glengoyne whiskies before this tour so it was all new and exciting for me.
The tour starts in the visitor centre where I was given a dram of their Cask Strength bottling. While you sip the whisky a DVD is put on the TV explaining the history and background of the distillery. The film also includes interviews with employees at the distillery which I particularly liked. If you do visit then watch out of the phase “clinky” it was a laugh out loud moment for me!
In terms of the actual dram I was drinking during the video I have to say I was slightly disappointed with it. It seemed to me to be quite spirity without the strong sherry influence I think I was expecting. The setting is certainly not the best to understand the whisky well and it was very generous of the tour guide to provide their cask strength version over the 12 year old which the itinerary suggested we would be offered.
With whiskies finished the tour proper can begin. We are lead outside to talk about the water which originally flowed down beside the distillery and into the production. Today the water comes from a more reliable source of course. The next stage is to talk about the barley and the milling process. We are invited to grind our own little sample of barley here on a kitchen utensil size mill. I was surprised how quickly and easily the barley could be ground down.
The next stage in the tour is to visit the washbacks. This was particularly interesting because a couple had very recently been replaced so the full lifecycle of a washback was evident. The colour difference is remarkable from the new wood to the deep dark blackness of a well used one. There was no opportunity to taste the wash and I was fine with that this time!
Finally, before heading over the warehouses we enter into the still room. There is three stills here, two spirit and a single wash still. It was also in this room that scenes were shot for the BBC comedy programme. “Still Game”.
Now the moment we have all been waiting for the special visit to the Number 1 warehouse. This warehouse is a recent addition built in building originally used for floor maltings. This warehouse is used to house the selected casks for the tasting and is behind a large metal gate and theatrically large padlock. This whole thing sort of felt a tiny bit forced and fake but it is a real legitimate bonded warehouse at least. There are some interesting casks in the warehouse which I won’t mention and leave for those willing to make the journey and pay the money for the tour. See the below image for picture from Glengoyne’s own website of the gate and the aforementioned padlock.
So armed with two glasses which we charged ourselves using a traditional dug we head back to the main house. The two glasses are very different with one being a 12 year old Oloroso sherry cask and the other a 19 year old ex-bourbon cask. In the tasting room we discuss and rate each glass before picking the one we like the best.
The 12 year old was lovely, full of thick rich fruits with the trademark mustiness I enjoy. The 19 year old was completely different being deep and complex but also fruity. Eventually, I picked the 19 year old because you know a bourbon matured Glengoyne is something of a novelty.
So in two hours we had drank three cask strength whiskies, two of which were directly from the cask they have spent their entire lives in. I enjoyed this tour a lot and the one thing that was very apparent to me was just how much busier Glengoyne is to Auchentoshan. There were so many visitors during the time I was there which made the very intimate visit to Auchentoshan seem much more special actually.
After my tour of course you have to visit the gift shop where I got a free sample of the 21 year old and dutifully bought a bottle. The tours all come with a money off coupon in the shop as well to take some of the pain out of the purchase. The price of the tour however I cannot shake the feeling it is slightly overpriced but people like me keep paying the money so can you really blame them.