The Glenrothes Adventure part 1: Welcome to Rothes House

Clutch is out of the country at the moment, and so I had my first solo whisky adventure up in the Northeast of Scotland this week. I was invited to visit The Glenrothes distillery in Speyside to learn more about the process of making whisky, meet the people, sample the food and incredible malts… and specifically to find out about a really fascinating competition that The Glenrothes will be launching on October 4th.

If you’re at all interested in whisky – and the idea of getting involved in making whisky appeals to you – then a week in Speyside working at the distillery, learning all of the processes, and soaking in all of the local culture (including salmon fishing, clay pigeon shooting, and feasting on gorgeous local cuisine) will probably be of interest.

I was in Rothes (not to be confused with the town of Glenrothes, which is elsewhere in Scotland – and the subject of an interesting historical tale you’ll no doubt hear while up in Speyside) for barely 24 hours, and I can’t condense my experiences into a single blog post – so this will necessarily be spread over a series of posts. There’s a lot to tell.

I took a lot of photos, and captured a good deal of video – and so this series of posts should give you just a taste of what to expect when you win one of the week-long experiences. There’ll be more details as we go along, but first, I thought I’d let Ronnie Cox, director of The Glenrothes tell you a little about where you’ll be staying.

Enjoy the video – and rest assured there’s a good deal more to come. As you’ll see – Ronnie Cox is a born storyteller, and as you’ll know – there is no finer type of human being with whom to share a dram.

That’s Mr Ambassador to you

We were recently approached by Visit Scotland to be ambassadors for the Scottish Year of Food and Drink. We of course agreed, and eagerly await the arrival of our ambassadorial cars, armed security and the ability to commit crimes abroad without fear of prosecution.

In the meantime, we get to put the above logo on our website, and we were asked a couple of questions to put in the Visit Scotland marketing material about this Year of Food and Drink.

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The Scotch Whisky Experience

are you experienced

On our recent visit to Edinburgh, we did as every good tourist should and paid a visit to the Scotch Whisky Experience, which is at the top of the big hill, next to the big castle, opposite the big hall of mirrors.

There are lots of reasons to go there – not least of which is the opportunity to go on a ride – a proper ‘sit in a barrel and hold on’ ride that takes you through the whole experience of whisky being made – but the twist is, that you are one of the ingredients, though we will keep an air of suspense and mystique about which particular whisky ingredient you play the role of (we can’t remember).

There’s also an introduction to the flavours and aromas of whisky, as well as a tasting, a gift shop and a lovely café/bar – but for us the highlight was the largest collection of Scotch single malts and blends on the planet. As Clutch put it, it was like his Fortress of Solitude: a perfect retreat from the world, surrounded by amazing, rare, special and – importantly – floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall whiskies.

What was surprising was how well it had been done. It wasn’t tacky and showy – and nor was it a fusty museum piece. The individual whiskies – and there were almost 3,500 bottles in the collection – were beautifully displayed, each discernible and examinable – and the totality of that collection (officially, the Diageo ‘Claive Vidiz Collection’) was quite overwhelming.

We had to sit down and have a dram to recover from all the awesome.

Make sure you go there if you’re in town.

A visit to Daftmill

You’ll notice that this blog post is neither right up to date, nor chronologically sequential with the other recent posts. Or you won’t. At any rate, this pertains to a visit we made to a distillery while we were on our way to St Andrews a couple of weeks back.

Daftmill is the newest distillery in Scotland – as yet, not releasing any stock onto the market – and, officially, not open to the public. But first we managed to convince our designated driver, Craig to take a detour – and then distillery manager Francis to let us in for a look around.


A tasting in a big empty room – part 2: Whyte & Mackay

The Friday night tasting for the Dubber and Clutch St Andrews Golf Open Whisky Fiasco 2010 was a selection of rare and boutique bottlings from Whyte and Mackay – including three new expressions from Isle of Jura and the award-winning 30 year-old blend.

Dalmore 18
Gorgeous. Dubber was tempted to just stay on this one all night. Rich, rewarding and a sherried treat.

Nose: Sherry, fruit, rich cake, spice, a touch of menthol.
Palate: Chocolate and coffee, with licorice and aniseed.
Finish: Smooth and round.

The Dalmore Mackenzie
It turns out that we got our hands on the last two bottles of this limited edition range. What a treat.

Nose: Winter fruits, cake mix, ginger.
Palate: Fresh baked apple tart, pecans, dark chocolate, ginger crunch.
Finish: Maple syrup, leather.

Jura Xu
The first and the youngest of the three new Jura premium expressions – and by far the most peaty Isle of Jura we’ve every tried.

Nose: Smoked bacon, roast pinenuts.
Palate: Peat, ash, a little sweetness and vanilla.
Finish: Long and sharp.

Jura Jo
A 15 year-old finished in a bourbon cask.

Nose: Light sweetness, summer fruits and caramel.
Palate: Some citrus and apple, pear drops and sugarcane. Water opens it up considerably.
Finish: Warm and fruity.

Jura Ji
The oldest member of the family and a sherry cask finish. As with the other new Jura premium bottlings, this is a cask strength.

Nose: Christmas cake, nuts and a strong aroma of the sherry.
Palate: Marzipan, shortbread, raisins and more sherry.
Finish: Long – full of stewed fruit and cinnamon.

Whyte and Mackay 30 year-old blend
The king of blends. Award-winning for good reason and – while it’s outside the scope of most tasting notes, we feel we need to say something about the beautiful packaging. This is a treasure to own.

Nose: Rich and complex.
Palate: Beautifully smooth. Full of rich flavours including toffee, banana, sherry, cigar smoke and cream.
Finish: Lingering, sweet and with a hint of toffee.