19 Nov 2014

Visiting The Glenrothes Whisky Distillery

The Glenrothes Distillery, Speyside, Scotland

Scotland to me is like the old bus analogy – you wait for ages, then two come along at once. A couple weeks after I visited the Johnstons of Elgin Wool Mill I found myself preparing to catch the plane back up to the very same part of the east coast of Scotland. Bags packed for two days in Rothes at The Glenrothes' own house, for a tour of the whisky distillery, food and "outdoor pursuits". I'm not the manliest of guys but this trip was sure to hoick me up the ladder.

Another 4am rise for Buckets. People keep saying, "you must be getting used to it by now", yet it never gets any easier. But the thing is, just like my 3:30am rise for our trip to Paris, these travel opportunities rarely disappoint. In steps The Glenrothes, one of the most prestigious and acclaimed Single Malt Whisky Distillers of them all. I'm not one to doubt 130 years in the business. My knowledge of whisky mostly stems from Hollie's Dad's drinks cabinet – where I've been known to work my way through his Japanese selection – so in the scheme of things I know very little.

With something so specialists + subjective as whisky it's best to listen to the experts, and The Glenrothes team have it running through their veins. The live it. After a quick meet-and-greet with our travel partners (Foodepedia + Toms Whisky Reviews) and bag drop at The Glenrothes cottage we made our way through the local woodland to the famous distillery.

The distillery itself spans across several large buildings, each serving as an integral part to what gives The Glenrothes whisky its unique and highly regarded taste. We passed bubbling vats, flowing pipes and countless cooling equipment, each beating away to keep the plant running. Ever new corner leading to something even more impressive that the last. For the sheer size of this place I was surprised to hear that it only takes three skilled worker to keep the distillation process alive.

Scotland isn't short of whisky manufactures, it's a huge part of their economy, with every corner turned there's another story to tell - but what makes The Glenrothes stand out in this sea is their dedication + passion to only producing Single Malt whiskies. The experts had my full attention as they took us through the whole distillation process.

Another fascinating and totally unknown side of the production process was one I had naively never considered. We were lucky enough to visit the on-site Cooperage – a warehouse dedicated to the production of wooden casks, in which the whiskey is housed in. Highly skilled, laborious, manual labour at its finest - seeing the Cooper smash seven bells out of the wooden lengths - with pinpoint accuracy - was a sight I will never forgot. 

Each cask is highly sought-after, with the type of wood (and if it's been used in the drinks industry before) having a lasting affect on the characteristics of the whisky. Trading of these casks within in the drinks industry is commonplace and is an integral part to producing a desired taste. Who knew?

Time for tasting in The Glenrothes Inner Sanctum! As mentioned, the cask has a lot to do with the taste, which put us in good stead to really taste the difference between The Glenrothes' extensive selection of whisky. I followed the team and tasted each one that arrived under my nose, each having its own characteristics and flavours. Clearly it's all in the taste, but to learn more about each whisky really makes for a more pleasurable experience. All go down the hatch, some more eagerly than others.

For our final day in Scotland we had been told to prepare for outdoor country pursuits and of course, more whisky. So we woke up early and headed straight up to the moors of Speyside. The views were just incredible, my camera skills couldn't do it justice. I know Corina is obsessed with Scotland so this one is for her! It took us all a few minutes just to grasp the sheer beauty of our surroundings.

We clambered across the bumpy terrain in an old Land Rover Defender, until we reached our destination. After a quick morning wake-up call of King's Ginger, we jumped straight back in the Defender for a course of blindfold driving (with the passenger being the navigator.....), whizzed around in a 5x5 off-road "Argo" and prepared ourselves for a round of clay shooting. After 20 shots and one hell of an aching shoulder I didn't even come close to grazing one, Nik was equally as poor.

After a hearty meal of locally-sourced sausage and mash at the Archiestown Hotel and of course a final whisky, we said our farewells (stopped off an the abandoned VW garage) and headed home. It was another blink-and-you-missed-it type trip, but for the short time I was there it was plain to see that our hosts lived whisky + The Glenrothes heritage like no other. It's infectious. The whisky itself was easy to drink, fiery and packed with countless flavours + layers. I clearly can't do the taste justice so I'll leave that to the experts - all I know is I arrived knowing very little about whisky, but left with and experience that won't be forgotten any time soon. I know what I'll be buying everyone for Christmas....
Find out more about The Glenrothes here.

Thanks for reading,
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  1. Mat, what an awesome photo tour of the distillery and Speyside. I'd love to visit, and of course, drink a ton of whisky ;)

  2. Sounds like another good short trip away! The landscape must've been amazing.

  3. Looks like you had an amazing trip Mat! Love reading about your adventures :) Loving the photography as always! H x


  4. Ooooooo...LUCKY YOU!

  5. are you a whisky fan Ashley?

  6. When it's Scottish Whisky, YES. I went to the Tomatin Distillery tour, and loved that as well. I also bought a bottle of Glenrothes...so smoooooth.

  7. We did try quite a bit of it!

  8. I'm so glad to have found your blog. I love whiskey and I am going to add this to bucket list for Scotland. Great blog!

  9. Oh really? That's great to hear! How did you find us? Glad you enjoyed the post, Scotland is lovely.


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