Back to school, The Glenlivet School

On September 4, I received an email … and this email was one, that was making me very happy. A happy Whiskygirl!  I participated in a contest, for Guardians a few weeks back,  and the mail said, that I’ve won 3 days in Scotland, back behind the school desk  ..

But this is no ordinary school. No .. this is The Glenlivet School.  A school where every whiskylover likes to go to..  I could pinch myself, but it’s not a dream. Waking up is out of the question. In total there were 3 dutch people who are privileged to go! And all very exited!
I’m leaving to Scotland with Hans and Bert, the other 2 lucky ones!
Still got a smile on my face while writing this ….  We are leaving very early in the first week of October. So would you like to travel with us from a distance .. I’ll keep you informed through this page =). It’s going to be fantastic, those 3 days!  3 weeks to go, and counting..

 Two weeks to go

Two weeks …. I’m wondering if I can sleep at the time we are actually going. I’ve made a special map with all the information I need, and a diary for everything I want to share with you, family, friends and something to read back, when I’m home again! This is a happening I must write down, with all the details.

Still exited to go! It would be weird if I didn’t wanted to go anymore. This is an ones in a lifetime experience! So taking my camera and social media equipment with me.

We received a list of the things we should bring with us…. There is one thing, I don’t have.. I’ve got the color, white isn’t a color, but it’s a different model. I’m not a man, so there must be a difference right?

……… Psssst , don’t forget to keep an eye on this page!

Less then one week to go

Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh … can you feel my excitement?

A few hours to go…. before my taxi arrives

I’ve looked up the weather forecast for October 1 2012, in Aberdeen. And here it is!

Bright with partly cloudy skies allowing a few sunny intervals. Most areas staying dry but a few scattered afternoon showers, mainly over Moray and western Aberdeenshire. Fresh southwesterly winds.

I’m prepared!!! Yesssss!!!

My experience at The Glenlivet Whisky School.

I was very exited a couple of days before my flight …. and specially when the taxi arrived at 3.30 am. I didn’t had much sleep, and I was very tired!  All the way to Schiphol airport, I was thinking about the people I was going to meet at the Linn House. Thinking about the people I was going on adventure with. On Schiphol I met my fellow travelers Hans and Bert… the other lucky winners. Surprisingly there was a third person waiting. Alwin, a journalist who was coming along! That was an nice surprise.

First we were having a cup of coffee to break the ice! We had at least one thing in common.. we like whisky and we were very looking forward to our stay in Scotland. During the flight there was a lot of talking. Who are we etc…  just to know each other. After the flight we were looking for the man with a big sign! Our taxi! A sweet looking man was waiting for us… And lucky for me I’m a woman and he took my suitcase!

This was my very first time in Scotland, and I was stunned .. lovely country, nice people, and I just love the accent! The accent of Ewan Gordon McGregor, Sean Connery, Karen Gillan and of course Ian Logan!

After an outstanding ride in the Scotland hills, I saw a tremendous house … the Linn House! A Victorian Scottish baronial house in Keith and a really romantic place to stay!
I had a feeling of a big Whoa, this is really nice! This Whoa feeling was getting bigger and bigger while going inside! A fantastic wooden bench, on a lovely floor was an eye-catcher!

The entire group was greeted by a very sweet lady, Eileen. She made you right at home …

Eileen show us our rooms.. Going up the stairs was fantastic. Loved the colored glass while walking to my room. All those doors, and wondering what door was mine, to enter. Meanwhile I loved the atmosphere … the old furniture, stuffed animals behind glass and the old pictures….

And the ceiling was beautiful, the nice finished borders … wow!

And there it was… my door. I couldn’t wait to open the door to the room, I was going to spend 2 nights. First thought? Wow a fireplace! A wonderful authentic old desk, a great fit for woman like me!

Then it was time to put my clothes in the also very authentic and lovely cabinet and making myself at home!

A rapid visit to Strathisla Distillery

Hans came up with the idea to go to the Strathisla Distillery. This is a few minute walk from the Lynn House. We had some time left before the Buffet lunch. So Hans, Bert and I went out, out on adventure. Making small steps in Scotland, after  a long ride in a taxi.

Almost everyone says that it’s always raining in Scotland. Not when we were there, we had wonderful and lovely weather, sunny!  Up to the Strathisla Distillery.

This Distillery is the oldest working one in the HIghlands. It’s established in 1789. If you look at the building from outside, it looks like it’s made through little gnomes, just perfect!  It’s a perfect venue for a romantic fairytale, a whisky fairytale. Strathisla Distillery sits on the banks of the river Isla, in historic town of Keith. Could it be any better? The story of a Whiskyprins, Whiskyprincess and their little drams.

We didn’t had much time, but Hans has persuaded someone with al his charms of the Distillery to give us a quick tour. Tony, a sweet portuguese man was enthusiastic enough to lead us around.

In half an hour we had seen it all, and at the end, we had three whisky samples at the end of our tour. It was still early, but we are in Scotland for a reason! There was a also a 12 year Strathisla single malt,  I bought that one, really enjoyed it! You can read more here: Strathisla Distillery 

The Glenlivet Whisky School

The Glenlivet whisky school .. A school where you’re going, with some expectations .. unknowingly, though. We were going to the Whisky School by bus, with a very nice bus driver. Seeing the Distillery was amazing, the road to this distillery was also very impressive! The color of the sun… the sunbeams shining beautifully over the landscape. It was just like a painting, a wet painting. Couldn’t resist to take my camera and start snapping a lot of pictures.

Ian was leading us, up to the classroom. There are ten glasses with natural flavorings prepared at the bar.  Our task as “students”  is to describe what we’re smelling.  With this nosing exercise, we were being prepared for the many nosings and tastings. This is called the Aroma Challenge!

With some fragrances I had to very think hard finding out the name, and with other fragrances there were several possibilities. I was comparing some fragrances with products I use at home. For example shampoo in the shower or spices in the kitchen. I think I did a great job, 8 out of 10 is just fantastic!

We got an interesting introduction to the history of The Glenlivet, founder George Smith and the entire process from malting to bottling. In 1824 the distillery was founded by George Smith… Oh I just love history …. the romance, the hectic, buildings, people, etc..! I love visiting musea, but you might have guessed it..

Then at one moment in these days, it was time for the actually nosing and tasting of whiskies.

Don’t want to spill everything, for those who are planning for a trip to the Glenlivet… So, I’m making a quick end of my story!

Day 2 

On the second day we also went for a walk, a walk through to the birthplace, where it all started!.. Ian told us about the area, the bricks, the ups and downs…  I loved the view, the hills, old houses, the animals…. and the history!

When we were finished, listening to the great story Ian Logan told us,  we slowly walked back to the Glenlivet and there we had a small tour and we saw a lot of barrels. Finally we had lunch in the Cafe. That is something that I really needed, soms soup, some bread and dessert. Just look at the pictures, nomnomnom..

…. and there was a surprise outside .. We were able to taste a dram from the smallest working legal still in Scotland. Very very tiny, but the still is no slouch on function and left a fine finish on our experience at the Glenlivet .. Reading this all back, I want to go back!

The Speyside cooperage

We stopped at the Speyside Cooperage, at the edge of Craigellachie, the only working cooperage in the UK where you can experience the ancient art of coopering.

We went into a small and cozy room inside to watch a movie where the base is told about the cooperage. It looked like a small cinema. After the interesting film we were guided to the visitors gallery upstairs for a small tour

From this point, we have a view on the coopers who repair casks for the whisky industry.

Our guide explains us a few things out. The coopers work by the piece and are working about 45 hours a week. The merit is good, assures the guide. From just ordinary barrels they make up 20 per day. Whisky barrels are made of oak, that is imported from the U.S. and Canada.  Barrels are offered by the distilleries after use for repair and maintenance.

Barrels are average used for 3-5 times. The whisky aged 10-18 years in a barrel.


And you know what? … there are no female coopers working here. It you are female, and you are strong and in for a big challenge? This is a there is a job opportunity.
Just send The Speyside cooperage a message! There is always room for woman in the Cooperage.  They asked me…  I said, I will think about it! The Speyside Cooperage

WhiskyGirl and the Kilt

We were having a traditional dinner in the evening. And with a traditional dinner, a traditional kilt is something that can’t be missed, this is not only for men but also for women…  Also for me! The first thought what came to mind, when I heard that I was going to Scotland,  was a Kilt. I was looking forward tot his,  I just love men in Kilts and I wanted to wear one myself. A weak point.

From Eileen, the 1st lady of the Linn house, I got several kilts to try. There was one particular I really liked. And yes, it was just my size. A perfect match with my shoes and blouse, made my day.

Before I went to scotland, I did some research and it seems that there is a wide variety of stylish Kilts for Women, kilted kilt, hiking kilt, sport kilt, mini kilt, ultra mini kilt, team kilt …

This I found on the wonderful word of wikipedia:

The History of the Kilt stretches back to at least the end of the 16th century. The kilt first appeared as the belted plaid or great kilt, a full length garment whose upper half could be worn as a cloak draped over the shoulder, or brought up over head as a cloak. The small kilt or walking kilt (similar to the ‘modern’ kilt) did not develop until the late 17th or early 18th century, and is essentially the bottom half of the great kilt. The word kilt comes from the Scots word kilt meaning to tuck up the clothes around the body, although the 11th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (vol. 15, p. 798) says the word is Scandinavian in origin. The Scots word derives from the Old Norse kjalta,[1] from Norse settlers who wore a similar, pleated garment.

Is a kilt sexy? Yes it is… It feels great and it looks great.



Haggis is the national dish of Scotland. It is a very old Scottish dish that contains a variety of meat, spices and oatmeal. This is a very powerful combination, unusual but a delicious feast. The factual and historical description of Haggis sometimes scares people off who haven’t tried it yet. I wasn’t looking forward to taste haggis, honestly. But I was also a bit curious. I’ve heard a lot of different stories. The one loves it, the other doesn’t. Where do I belong, in the like or dislike section. Most people keep away from a dish like haggis.


On the 2nd night of our stay at the Linn House, it was time for the traditional diner, as I mentioned before. And Haggis was on the menu. There was music, and there was the Haggis. I was sitting at the end of the table, but very close to the Haggis. Ian Logan was standing next to me, with a big knife. He was telling a story, with so much passion. It was amazing and suddenly he was swinging that knife and cut into the Haggis…. It was spectacular. Words aren’t enough..  You should have been there! Wow!

I was still doubting whether I was going to take a bite from the haggis of not. I think, that If you are in a country, then you need to inhale and taste the culture. I had no choice … I had to have a little bite, before I knew it, there was no haggis left on my plate. It was just yummy!

I thought haggis would’t be tasteful, but in fact Haggis is a delicious, spicy dish.
Like section it is.

Strathspey Fiddlers

After the great traditional diner it was time to enjoy some nice music under the delight of some whisky. The Strathspey Fiddlers were waiting for us in the music room. This is a very talented group of young instrumentalists, dancers and singers from across Moray and West Aberdeenshire.

They just caught my eye, when I entered the room. They were all nice dressed and a bit nervous and some were giggling …..  This was just fantastic, after eating Haggis, some great music as desert!

The violins, piano, voices and a quitar were perfectly combined. This combination made these few days to a perfect last night at the Linn House. It felt like heart-to-heart, intimate, cheerful. It felt like, never letting go! Look and listen to them at Whisky Girl’s youtube:

Thinking and reading everything back again, makes me feel a bit homesick.  But lucky for me, we all got a cd to take home with us. Have a look on their website Strathspey Fiddlers

The last day

The last day…. I was sleeping, so deep, I slept through the alarm. I was just awake in time to have some breakfast after a quick shower. This day is the day there was going to be quiz. A quiz to see if you have learned enough and if you were Glenlivet Worthy…

It was a strange feeling, the last day at the Linn House. At one hand I loved to go home, but on the other hand, 3 days were gone with a wink of an eye, so.. I would’t mind to stay a couple of days extra. After packing my suitcase and giving my key back, it was time .. Quiz time!

The quiz.. At school, I never liked questions, so I was very nerveus this morning. Seeing all those questions. Maybe you will be attending this Whisky School, some day. So I’m not giving you any clues, about the questions and answers.. But what I can tell you is this! From all the questions, I only had 3 wrong! From the 20 questions …. I have given myself small pats on the back!

That was it really …  Oh wait, some pictures….

And on my way home….

And this is it! This is what I wanted and were I came for! The Glenlivet Whisky School Certificate!



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6 thoughts on “Back to school, The Glenlivet School

  1. Hi Femke,
    I have being reading your piece as it has been published and I am delighted to hear you enjoyed it so much. Time to arrange a Masters course now!!!


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