The morning of Friday 17 November, dawned cloudily, but also chilly, as we made our way into Edinburgh and the Abbey Whisky Bar. On arrival at 8:30 am, we all had a nice bacon roll and coffee served by the owner Steve.
The mini-bus arrived and fifteen of us took a seat for the trip North to Aberfeldy. The first problem being to get out of the city! Not a small achievement with the seemingly everlasting roadworks everywhere. Eventually, we crossed the new “Saltire Bridge” and drove over into Fife. As the miles rolled by the scenery changed from rolling hills to a high hill with deep glens with lots of forests as we made our way into Perthshire.
The time passed quickly and soon we arrived at Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery.
On arrival, we were met by our guide for the day and then spent some time wandering about the Visitor Centre and the Museum. Both are excellent. The Visitor Centre is equipped for light meals and has an extensive range of whisky and gifts. Plus comfortable couches to relax in. Not forgetting a well-equipped bar!
The Museum is full of many interesting exhibits relating to whisky in general and the history of Dewars in particular. One area is set up as a recreation of the founders drawing room.
There are also a number of displays of rare bottles of malt whisky. Lovely to look at and also very expensive!
Amongst the interactive exhibits are a whisky quiz and a game to test how good your “nose” is at identifying various components which are involved in the making of whisky. My own favourite. Plus lots of historical advertising campaigns.
After we had been to the museum our guide took us outside and we walked to the Pitilie Burn the stream from which Dewar’s gets the water for whisky production. This has been dammed in the 1970’s to ensure that the distillery does not run out of water in dry Summer months. Not that this is likely in Scotland! The burn water can even be bought from the Visitor Centre so that you can have the same soft water with your dram as the whisky was made from.
Our guide let us try some colourless “new” whisky which was very strong before we added a nice mixture of honey, lemon and spices to produce a “Toddy.” Just what we needed with the chilly wind! Before we went back to the Distillery we had a dram of the Aberfeldy 12-year-old malt. This was lovely. Very smooth. To the nose we could detect fruit and after drinking there were notes of heather and honey plus toasted oats. Little aftertaste but some spiciness. An excellent malt and I can well understand why it is so popular.
The guide gave us more background on the Distillery. It was founded in 1846 and is one of the first to produce blended whisky. The signature malt is the Aberfeldy 12 year old. Although you can also obtain bottles of the 25-year-old malt.
The signature blend is the Dewar’s White Label at 40 percent proof. This is made from up to 40 Scottish single malts. The Chief Blender has the interesting task of keeping the taste consistent and substituting one malt for another where necessary. This day’s sadly no bottling takes place at the distillery – this is all done in Glasgow.
We were then taken on a tour of the Distillery production areas. From the Mash Tun to the Distilling Vessels. We were able to see the current batches of whisky in various stages. The distillery now uses BioFuel to provide heat for the process. Very Capital Intensive only eleven workers are employed in the production of whisky.
Then we had a well-earned lunch. Soup and sandwiches with pieces of cake and coffee. All very nice.
The rest of the afternoon was spent trying our hand at blending whisky in the Blending Room. Our excellent guide explained the process to us and we tried four malt whiskies to get our taste buds in tune!
Two of those were from Dewar’s and two from competitors. We then set about blending from a single grain and four malt whiskies. These had main characteristics of smokiness, sweetness, fruitiness and cereal. We adjusted the proportions of these whiskies and tasted as we went along until we found a blend we were happy with! Our guide then used his nose to arrive at the winning malt this belonging to my wife! She received a nice bag with several gifts in it. I was comforted by the fact that my “medicinal” whisky would be of use when I next felt unwell! The session ended with two more drams of cask strength expensive whisky from Dewars. Both very satisfying! A lovely visit!!!!
Written by Greg Dunn (Instagram)
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